Johnny Depp is Gangster Whitey Bulger in Levinson's 'Black Mass'
by Ethan Anderton
February 4, 2013
Bad news for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Though the Good Will Hunting writing and acting duo was said to be working on the story of New England gangster Whitey Bulger with Affleck directing the film, co-starring and producing with Damon, who would play Bulger himself, there haven't been any updates since October 2011. And now a press release from Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media have announced that Johnny Depp will play Boston's most notorious gangster in a film set up at Universal called Black Mass with Rain Man and Wag the Dog director Barry Levinson at the helm. More below!
Cross Creek is using the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, written by former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. Fresh screenwriter Mark Mallouk just recently completed an entirely new screenplay based on the book after Bulger, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted list for over 10 years, was captured in June of 2011. Mallouk's script tells the true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. However, after the Feds closed in on their targets, they double crossed Bulger and ultimately prosecuted him, along with his partner in crime and the original FBI agent working with him.
At this point Depp is only attached to the feature, so there's a chance he could fall away from the project before it goes in front of cameras. However, having a director and a distributor ready to go with a completed script makes this project likely to go ahead sooner than later. We're not sure how this will effect the project Affleck and Damon wanted to do, which would have been interesting coming from two Boston natives, but having Depp get another try at playing a real-life gangster after the mediocre Public Enemies sounds solid.