Johnny Depp may already be on location in Boston shooting Whitey Bulger crime drama Black Mass for Out of the Furnace helmer Scott Cooper, but that doesn’t mean that the highly anticipated film is done with casting quite yet.
In an unexpected shake-up, Guy Pearce, who was on board to play Whitey’s politician brother Billy Bulger, has departed the project, leaving Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch to take his place. Just hours after that scoop broke, it was also announced that Parks & Recreation actor Adam Scott would be joining the film, playing FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick.
Though it’s unfortunate that Pearce, a skilled character actor, is no longer involved with Black Mass, Cumberbatch seems like a solid replacement. The British thesp has infiltrated popular culture thanks to high-profile roles in Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness, but his distinct knack for playing intense and conflicted characters can perhaps best be observed in his portrayal of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. Though that movie had its fair share of problems, Cumberbatch’s thrilling performance was not one of them.
As for Scott’s casting, the actor is best identified with comedic roles, and his forays into serious territory have been few and far between. Honestly, only The Vicious Kind comes to mind as a strong showcase for his abilities as a dramatic actor. Still, that film was superb, and the actor is certainly an interesting addition to the cast. Given how good Cooper is at getting powerful performances out of his actors, I wouldn’t worry about Scott’s history as a funnyman.
Cumberbatch and Scott join an absolutely superb cast. In addition to Depp, the film stars Dakota Johnson, Juno Temple, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons and Jeremy Strong, among others. Black Mass is set to hit theaters in October of 2015, when it will likely become one of the most prominent awards contenders of the year. I can’t wait.