The story of James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr is one of legendary drama, violence, politics, and familial tensions, and Hollywood studios have wanted to put it on film for a number of years. Those plans are now solidifying for Warner Bros., with the casting of Guy Pearce as brother to Johnny Depp’s mob boss, Whitey Bulger, in the forthcoming Black Mass.
The film will be based upon the book ‘Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, The FBI And A Devil’s Deal’ written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, and published in 2012 – a year after Bulger’s long overdue incarceration. The source material details the relationship between Whitey Bulger and John Connolly – childhood friends who would eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the law as Bulger rose to the top of crime organizations, and John Connolly rose to the top of the Boston FBI Field Office. What transpired between them has led to years of investigation and conjecture, as Connolly attempted to bring Bulger into the FBI, while furthering his own career – with Bulger using the opportunity to pursue his own agenda.
Johnny Depp is confirmed for the role of Whitey Bulger, with Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) facing off against him as John Connolly in the adaptation, to be written and directed by Scott Cooper (Out Of the Furnace). That’s already an interesting prospect – but the casting news announced today turns that interest dial all the way up to 11. It was not just John Connolly that was in conflict with Bulger. It is safe to say that Whitey and younger brother William did not really get on, either.
As a child, William Bulger excelled at school, while his older brother Whitey was drawn into street life. Having interrupted his studies to serve two years in the US Army, William graduated and was elected to the Massachusetts House Of Representatives in 1961. He served four terms before being elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1970, the Presidency of which he was elected to in 1978. He remained in that elected post until 1996, making his Presidential tenure the longest in Massachusetts history.
Already an engaging story of childhood friends wrenched apart by organized crime, the casting of Guy Pearce brings the additional storyline of brotherly rivalries into full view. Black Mass just went from being a tense conflict between two former friends, to being a full-on three-man stand-off. With Johnny Depp and Guy Pearce in two of those roles, we’re booking our tickets already.