Johnny Depp is set to star in a new movie as longtime Boston mobster and fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger. Barry Levinson is set to direct the film, “Black Mass,” based on Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill’s excellent book of the same name, Entertainment Weekly reported.
Everyone loves gangster films and the Bulger story sounds very cinematic: Bulger was a longtime Irish mob boss in South Boston who made a deal with the local FBI in the 1970s in which he helped them put away rival mobsters- the local Italian Mafia, mostly- while the feds looked the other way on his own crimes.
The arrangement continued for nearly two decades, with some rogue FBI agents essentially helping Bulger commit crimes, until some of the feds were indicted and Bulger fled to an undisclosed location. For much of this time Bulger’s brother, William, was a high-ranking elected official in Massachusetts.
Bulger and his girlfriend were caught, hiding in a Santa Monica, Calif., apartment complex, in 2011.
While Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” was a remake of the Hong Kong classic “Infernal Affairs,” there was a lot of Whitey Bulger in Jack Nicholson’s Boston mob boss character, Frank Costello.
Depp, meanwhile, played the thin line between the FBI and mob in “Donnie Brasco,” and was also a famous gangster in “Public Enemies.”
It had been reported as recently as last October that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were considering making the Bulger story their next Boston-based project, with Damon playing Bulger and Affleck directing, although its unclear if that film is still in the works.