Johnny Depp Joins The Mob (Again) As Whitey Bulger In Black Mass

Sigh. Oh, Johnny. You’ve been very trying of late. First a less than stellar turn in Dark Shadows, next a questionable role in The Lone Ranger. And you were once the most interesting actor in Hollywood too. Well, maybe breaking away from Burton and Gore Verbinski for a little while will bring Mr. Depp back into the ‘hey, he’s actually a good actor’ fold as today, we have word that Depp has been attached to the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass.

Johnny Depp will be taking on the role of the notorious Bulger himself in the film. Bulger was a South Boston criminal who inspired the Jack Nicholson character in The Departed. The film is based on the book of the same name by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. It follows the life of Bulger, the brother of a state senator, who turned FBI informant when a Mafia family invaded his South Boston turf. Things went south, though, the FBI double-crossed Bulger and finally took him, his partner and an FBI agent down.

Dang. Now that sounds pretty damned exciting. Black Mass will not be the first time Depp has played a criminal either: he was John Dillinger in Public Enemies, and an undercover agent who infiltrated the mob in Donnie Brasco. So he’s working in somewhat familiar territory here.

The script has been in-development as long ago as 2008, but was recently refurbished after the 2011 capture of Bulger. Barry Levinson has taken over from originally slated director Jim Sheridan, with a script by Mark Mallouk based on the book.

I have always liked Depp, and it is nice to see him working outside of the Disney/Burton fold once more. Although his more serious films in the past few years have not brought in audiences – The Rum Diary was an excellent labor of love, but it did not get the numbers it really should have – this one is quite high-profile. Depp has also been attached to Wally Pfister’s Transcendance, which means we can expect some non-Captain Jack performances in the near future.

What do you think about Black Mass? Will it be nice to see Depp doing another non-franchise film, or should he stick to what he knows? Let us know in the comments section!