Skip to main content

Johnny Depp lines up another gangster biopic

Johnny Depp is set to add another real-life gangster to the roster of characters he’s played on screen, with EW (opens in new tab) reporting that he has signed on to star in Black Mass .

Directed by Barry Levinson, the film will see him portray Whitey Bulger, an infamous Boston crime figure who built up something of a Robin Hood legend.

Working as an FBI informant for years, Bulger built up a crime empire before going on the run to avoid an indictment. He was arrested in 2011, aged 81, after 16 years in hiding (and for 12 of those years he was listed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives).

Believed to be the source of inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s Departed character, James Joseph ‘Whitey’ Bulger was captured, along with his long-term companion Catherine Greig, by a Special Task Force of FBI agents and a Deputy US Marshal.

Screenwriter Mark Mallouk is adapting non-fiction tome Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob , which (as the subtitle suggests) hones in on Bulger’s long-standing relationship with the Bureau.

Black Mass is preparing to shoot in May 2013. Its success could hinder the status of another Bulger biopic: one that’s set to be directed by Ben Affleck, written by Boardwalk Empire ’s Terence Winter, and starring Matt Damon.

Matt Maytum
Matt Maytum

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.