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Casting Net: Benedict Cumberbatch replaces Guy Pearce in 'Black Mass'

• Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) will replace Guy Pearce (The Rover) in the upcoming Whitey Bulger biopic starring Johnny Depp (Transcendence). According to Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver, Pearce dropped out of the upcoming crime drama, which has already started filming in Boston, due to scheduling conflicts. Cumberbatch will take over the role of Billy Bulger, Whitey’s (Depp) law-abiding brother, in the upcoming film, which tells the true story of the FBI’s unconventional alliance with the Irish Mob. [Variety] READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Guy Pearce in talks to join Johnny Depp in 'Black Mass'; Plus, Joseph Fiennes, more

Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3) is currently in talks to star opposite Johnny Depp (Transcendence) in Warner Bros. upcoming crime drama, Black Mass. The film tells the story of famed Boston mob boss and FBI informant, Whitey Bulger (Depp), who uses his double status as a way of picking off any criminal competition. Pearce is currently in talks to play Bulger’s brother on the project which is being produced by Warner Bros. and Cross Creek. [Variety]
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Casting Net: Tom Hardy in talks to join Johnny Depp in 'Black Mass'; Plus, Will Smith, Saoirse Ronan, more

• Tom Hardy (Inception) is in early talks to join Johnny Depp (who is now officially signed on again) in the Whitey Bulger pic Black Mass. Hardy would play FBI Agent John Connolly, a childhood friend of Bulger’s who gets in trouble when he reveals inside information to Bulger about an impending indictment. Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart) recently agreed to direct the film. [Deadline]

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Casting Net: Johnny Depp exits gangster pic 'Black Mass'; Plus, Forest Whitaker may play Martin Luther King, Jr., more

• Johnny Depp is a busy man. He’s got a major summer release on the horizon with The Lone Ranger, he’s filming Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is expected to start shooting in January, and he’s also gearing up for Disney’s adaptation of Into the Woods. But, the actor did decide to exit the Barry Levinson-directed Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, reportedly due to a salary cut asked of Depp, who had been circling the project for some time and officially committed in late February 2013. Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty) recently joined Black Mass to play an FBI agent who is close with Bulger. Cross Creek Pictures has not yet announced a replacement. [THRREAD FULL STORY

Casting Net: Johnny Depp commits to 'Black Mass' and Pfister's 'Transcendence'; Plus, Tom Hardy in PTSD film, and Bradley Cooper

Johnny Depp fans, get excited. The actor has committed to his next two projects: Wally Pfister’s sci-fi thriller Transcendence, and Barry Levinson’s Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, both of which he’d been circling for a while. Transcendence will be the directorial debut for Pfister, an Oscar-winning cinematographer (for Inception in 2011), who has been Christopher Nolan’s go-to since Memento. The details of the project remain sparse, but the logline teases that the film is about a scientist who has his brain uploaded into a computer. Depp will go straight from Transcendence to Black Mass, based on the true crime book Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI and A Devil’s Deal by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. Depp will portray the real-life former Boston mob boss and FBI informant, Whitey Bulger, who is still very much alive. [Variety]

• Tom Hardy is set to develop and star in the post traumatic stress disorder drama Samarkand, about a British soldier attempting to readjust to society after serving in the Middle East. Photographer Greg Williams wrote the script with his brother Olly, and will make his feature debut directing the project. Williams directed Hardy in the short film Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother (available here) about a man (Hardy) who decides to run away to join the French Foreign League. [Deadline]

Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper has committed to producing and starring in an English-language remake of the 2011 German film Kokowääh. He’s also reportedly considering whether or not to direct the project. The original film was directed by and starred Til Schweiger (Hugo Stiglitz in Inglorious Basterds) as a writer who discovers that he has an 8-year-old daughter. The film follows his work, his burgeoning relationship with his daughter (and her foster father), and his attempts to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend and writing partner. The script is currently undergoing a re-write. [Deadline]

PREVIOUSLY: Chris Cooper is Norman Osborn in ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ 

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Johnny Depp to play Whitey Bulger in 'Black Mass'

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. READ FULL STORY

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