Johnny Depp used to toss smaller movies in the mix here and there between starring in entries in mega-franchises, but it’s been a few years since he’s starred in anything that could be considered “small.”
It seems like that’s about to change, since Depp has reportedly signed on the dotted line to play gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, a film he was once attached to before dropping out because they couldn’t reach an agreement about how much he should be paid. Barry Levinson was originally going to direct, but now Scott Cooper – he of Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace – will helm the project.
If you’re not familiar with Bulger’s reign of terror, Black Mass should be a captivating thriller. Bulger went from a Boston crime kingpin to the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and was a fugitive for years before he was eventually found and arrested in 2011. Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed was loosely based on Bulger, and the real-life guy was apparently an informant for the FBI and fed them information so they would take down a rival gang. Tom Hardy is also in talks to play FBI agent John Connolly (taking over for the once-rumored Joel Edgerton), a childhood friend of Bulger’s who tipped him off when he was about to be indicted, which landed the agent in jail also. It’s a fascinating story, and you can read more about it here.
This is the kind of project that may be able to inject new creative life into Depp’s career, and with another Pirates film and a sequel to Alice in Wonderland on the horizon, it seems like it can’t get here quickly enough. I can’t wait to see him share the screen with Hardy, too – maybe starring opposite the hungry up-and-comer will bring out the best in the old veteran.
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