Johnny Depp Will Play Crime Boss Whitey Bulger in ‘Black Mass’ After All

By February 7, 2014

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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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.
  • Let’s hope Depp can make a comeback from The Lone Ranger.

    • Christopher D Wellborn

      I actually liked The Lone Ranger. When the trailers first started coming out I hated it. Then I started listening to what other people were complaining about, how “different from the original it is”. Then I remembered how bad the original was, in a lot of ways. I feel like they made it fun and damn, the action was great. I would have lost the whole Tonto in the museum scenes though. Wasn’t needed AT ALL and it slowed down the pacing and frankly, was just stupid! But again, the movie was great!

      • Kristin T Medina

        The Lone Ranger was a failure of EPIC proportion.

  • Colt Howard

    I’m good with anything Depp. But if they try and get him in make-up to look like an older Whitey, I’m out. I’m getting a little sick of the dress-up Depp. He’s such a good actor I’d like to see him in just a good, solid dramatic role.

    • Matt A Banker

      I don’t completely agree, but I know what you mean. The Tonto in the LR was a real turn-off for me. It hurt the pacing of the movie – But it was then that I realized how often Depp dresses up into a crazy character, as if he’s scared to be himself, playing a real person.

  • Aiman Fida

    LOL…I don`t have any problem if he will be a older whitey…I know he is still gonna Blow everybody`s mind. Superb Depp he is!!!

    • Colt Howard

      He’s great! I just don’t think I can stomach another role of his in some costume.

  • Katie C Schwartz

    Can’t wait for this. I love anything my little Johnny is in. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom Hardy’s in Inception, but them saw him in Lawless and loved him. This should be a great flick!

  • Timothy W Williams

    I’m not sure I see him pulling off this role, but if anybody can, it’s JD.

  • Christopher D Wellborn

    I’ll see anything with Depp, if for nothing else, just to see what he does with one of his crazy characters. However, I’d really like to start seeing him in some ‘normal’ roles.

    • Kristin T Medina

      “Normal” is right. His definition is clearly broad!

  • dulceoster534

    I want to see more great mob movies before I die 🙂

    • Susan P Graham