Johnny Depp to play Whitey Bulger in 'Black Mass'

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Image Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation/AP; Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Johnny Depp is attached to play notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in director Barry Levinson’s Black Mass. Bulger — South Boston’s most violent criminal who used his political connections and became an FBI informant to protect his turf — was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, and he was captured in June 2011 after 16 years of being on the Fed’s Most Wanted List.

First-time screenwriter Mark Mallouk adapted the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, written by former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. “I could not be more thrilled to have the biggest star in the world and Academy-Award winning director Barry Levinson to finally bring this incredible story to the big screen,” says Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver, in a statement. “We have been working on this project since we originally optioned the book in 2005. Black Mass expertly details the twists and turns of this highly complex story, painting a vivid portrait of Boston’s underbelly and its corrupt political machine, as well as exposing the worst scandal in FBI history. It’s also an examination of loyalty to family, Irish heritage, and South Boston.”

The film is scheduled for a May 2013 start date, and will be distributed in the U.S. by Universal.

Bulger’s story is also the subject of a potential biopic from Ben Affleck and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter, with Matt Damon possibly playing Bulger and Affleck directing.

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