Johnny Depp to star as Whitey Bulger in ‘Black Mass’

By Daniel S Levine,

Johnny Depp will play the notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, a film to be directed by Oscar-winner Barry Levinson.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the project was written by first time screenwriter Mark Mallouk and is based on Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, a 2001 book penned by Boston Globe writers Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. The project will be produced by Cross Creek Pictures and distributed by Universal.

“I could not be more thrilled to have the biggest star in the world and Academy-Award winning director Barry Levinson to finally bring this incredible story to the big screen,” Cross Creek President Brian Oliver said. “We have been working on this project since we originally optioned the book in 2005. Black Mass expertly details the twists and turns of this highly complex story, painting a vivid portrait of Boston’s underbelly and its corrupt political machine, as well as exposing the worst scandal in FBI history. It’s also an examination of loyalty to family, Irish heritage, and South Boston.”

Black Mass will cover Bulger’s story, which includes becoming an FBI informant to protect his territory, but was later prosecuted by the government. He was on the run for over a decade before being caught in June 2011. Bulger was also the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Just after getting caught, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reportedly began plans to work on a film. Damon said at the time that he was interested in playing Bulger himself in that project.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the project could delay Depp’s Transcendence, which is set to be directed by Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister.
Levinson is best known for directing the Oscar-winner Rain Man. He recently directed The Bay and You Don’t Know Jack.

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