Ben Affleck is still planning to make a biopic about infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, featuring his buddy Matt Damon as the lead and a script written by Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street), with revisions from Aaron Stockard (The Town). However, before that happens, Affleck is going to play the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel, then will shoot the period crime drama/adaptation Live By Night for a 2015 theatrical release.
Meanwhile, fellow Bulger flick Black Mass is moving forward once again. The project hit a snag on its way down the production pipeline last year, when attached star Johnny Depp stepped away following a breakdown in salary negotiations; soon thereafter, the film also lost its director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Bugsy) and costar Joel Edgerton (Jane Got a Gun), but it has since then replaced the former and looks to recruit another respected character actor to fill the hole left by Edgerton.
Deadline is reporting that Depp has finally sealed a deal to play Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, with Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) directing and Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) in talks to play John Connolly - the role previously reserved for Edgerton. The script by Mark Mallouk (executive producer on Rush) examines Bulger's reign as Boston's top-dog crime kingpin - while he played informant to the FBI via his childhood friend Mr. Connolly - on through to the 16 years he spent as a fugitive from the U.S. government, after being tipped off about a pending federal indictment against him.
Production on Black Mass will begin this upcoming May, which gives Depp sufficient time to finish playing duplicitous art dealer Charles Mortdecai in the madcap caper Mortdecai adaptation. Thereafter, Depp will reprise his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and then reprise as the aloof Mad Hatter in the Alice in Wonderland sequel (a.k.a. Through the Looking Glass), both of which are slated to open in theaters in Summer 2016.
Cooper, as a storyteller, is big on creating gritty visions of worlds populated by colorful, yet humanized archetypes, be they Jeff Bridges' boozing musician in Crazy Heart or the various lower-class citizens that populate the Rust Belt setting from Out of the Furnace. On those grounds, he's a logical choice to have capture the outlandish (yet also very much dark and disturbing) nature of Bulger's existence onscreen, with Black Mass.
Depp has always specialized in taking eccentric character roles and fleshing them out beyond caricature; Bulger very much lies within his wheelhouse, yet presents enough of a change of pace from Depp's recent work that (hopefully) his performance won't unfold as a best-of-compilation of past offerings (see: his turn in Dark Shadows). Hardy is just icing on the cake, as he's continued to prove himself as a chamelon-like performer in recent years (see also: Inception, Warrior, Lawless, and so forth), and his involvement would only be a gain for Black Mass.
Indeed, Black Mass is one of a handful of upcoming Depp projects that sounds intriguing, along with this spring's sci-fi thriller Transcendence from director Wall Pfister (Oscar-winning cinematographer of The Dark Knight trilogy). Let us know if you agree and/or if you're more interested in seeing Affleck/Damon's Whitey Bulger project, in the comments section.
We'll keep you posted on the status of Black Mass as more information is made available.