Johnny Depp will play Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass,” one of two forthcoming movies about the notorious Boston gangster. Barry Levinson will direct the film, an adaptation of Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill‘s 2001 book, “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob,” reports EW.
Bulger, whose story inspired Jack Nicholson‘s character in Martin Scorcese‘s 2006 film, “The Departed,” was a fugitive from justice for 17 years before his 2011 capture and arrest in Santa Monica, Calif. He is charged with 19 counts of murder, narcotics distribution, extortion, and multiple conspiracy counts. Bulger allegedly masterminded a criminal “protection” racket while working as an informant for the FBI, and was able to flee federal charges based on a tip from a bureau insider.
Ben Affleck previously told GQ he is working on an adaptation that would see him directing buddy Matt Damon as Bulger in the near future, with Terrence Winter (“Boardwalk Empire,” “The Sopranos”) writing the script. Affleck, who, like Damon, has strong ties to Boston, was hoping “everyone else will back off” of their Whitey projects once he spilled the beans, but it appears he’s out of luck.
Peter Facinelli has also been working on his own adaptation of Edward McKenzie, Jr.‘s “Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob.”