When it comes to historical American gangsters, there are few names with the level of notoriety attained by Al Capone. Rising to both fame and infamy – depending on one’s opinion of the man at the time – as a Chicago crime boss during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s and early 1930s, Capone was seen by some as a modern-day Robin Hood, openly defying the government’s catastrophically ineffective anti-alcohol policy. That was until the infamous 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, in which Capone’s forces brutally murdered a number of rival gang members.
As has become well-known to even those with only a passing knowledge of Capone, the feds eventually pursued the novel strategy of prosecuting the vicious gangster for tax evasion. Capone was sentenced to 11 years, serving 8 before ultimately being released. Unfortunately for him, the symptoms of syphilitic dementia had already begun to ravage his mind by that point, and only got worse as the years progressed. Capone died in 1947 at the young age of 48.
While multiple films have been made over the years that serve to chronicle Capone’s rise and fall as a crime boss, a topic much less explored in the cinematic realm is Capone’s sad final days. That’s what director Josh Trank (Fantastic Four) is setting out to do with his new film Fonzo. Now set to play the ailing gangster is Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road), who’ll embody Capone as “his past becomes present as harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life,” according to the official plot description.
Fonzo is the latest project to be added to Hardy’s consistently full plate, with the actor starring in 5 films in 2015. Hardy also co-created and stars in the Ridley Scott-produced British miniseries Taboo, which filmed this year, and will air in 2017 on BBC One in the UK and FX in the US. Hardy’s next feature will be Christopher Nolan’s historical war drama Dunkirk, alongside Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh.
Prior to Trank’s disastrously unsuccessful attempt to reboot the Fantastic Four, the director had gained fame for his work on the found footage film Chronicle. Trank went on to publicly cite studio interference as the reason for Fantastic’s failure, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can reverse his career trajectory via this smaller-scale dramatic effort. Casting an actor as talented as Hardy is certainly a step in the right direction.
Fonzo is in pre-production, and has no current release date.