On September 18, 2015, Warner Bros. Pictures is scheduled to release the much anticipated gangster film Black Mass. The film written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth tells the true story of one of the most infamous Irish gangsters of all time James “Whitey” Bulger. Black Mass directed by Scott Cooper is based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. Johnny Depp transforms himself into “Whitey” for his portrayal of the Boston gangster, the brother of a state senator and one of the most violent criminals in the history of Boston. In addition to being a ruthless and violent mob boss, “White” became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family that was giving him trouble. The film examines the time period of the 1970s and 1980s, a time span where “Whitey” made his way up the ranks of the leader of the Irish American Winter Hill Gang.
The plot centers on the relationship of FBI agent John Connelly and “Whitey”. Both men grew up together in South Boston. They would reunite years later as Connolly was a big shot in the FBI’s Boston office while “Whitey” had become a feared mob boss of the Irish Mob. The two men made a shady deal to not only share classified information but devised a scheme to take down Boston’s Italian Mafia. In the process, you can rest assured there is a plethora of violence, murder, drug trafficking, with “Whitey” making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and being on the run for over ten years.
Other cast members of Black Mass include Joel Edgerton as John Connolly, Benedict Cumberbatch as William “Billy” Bulger, Dakota Johnson as “Whitey’s” longtime girlfriend Lindsey Cyr, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Charles McGuire, Jesse Plemons as Kevin Weeks, Peter Sarsgaard as Brian Halloran, Corey Stoll as Fred Wyshak, Sienna Miller as Catherine Greig, David Harbour as corrupt FBI agent John Morris, Rory Cochrane as Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Julianne Nicholson as Marianne Connolly, James Russo as FBI agent Scott Garriola, Adam Scott as Robert Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Strong as Josh Bond, Brad Carter as John McIntyre, Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly, W. Earl Brown as Johnny Martorano, Juno Temple as Deborah Hussey, Erica McDermott as Mary Bulger and Berglind Jónsdóttir as Anna Björnsdóttir.
Adding to the film’s authenticity, principal photography took place around Boston. The production designer and crew transformed the Polish American Club on Cambridge St. into the Triple O’s Lounge which was “Whitey’s” South Boston hangout. Scenes were also shot in East Boston, Silver Street in South Boston, Back Bay, Lynn, Quincy, the Harvard Club, Ashmont Grill in Dorchester, Revere Beach and Copley Square. A building located at 6 Gilson Road was made to look like the Eugenia apartments in Santa Monica, California. This is where the FBI arrested Bulger on June 22, 2011.
Johnny Depp is almost unrecognizable in the film as “Whitey.” Depp has brought much authenticity to his roles in his gangster films. His portrayal of Joe Pistone in Donnie Brasco was dead on and he also shined as John Dillinger in Public Enemies. After watching the official trailer of Black Mass, you can see it looks like he will not disappoint in this film as well.
Below are some interesting facts and trivia about Black Mass:
The role of Bill Bulger was originally given to Guy Pearce but he dropped out of the film for undisclosed reasons.
Due to a salary dispute Johnny Depp left the project and later returned in the lead role.
James ‘Whitey’ Bulger had been on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for 12 years when he was finally captured and arrested in 2011. Except for Osama Bin Laden, the reward of $2 million dollars the FBI offered for information leading to Bulger’s arrest was larger than that for any other fugitive on the wanted list.
During the filming of the movie, the real-life John Connolly’s accessory to murder conviction was overturned.
Johnny Depp tried several times to talk to “Whitey” while prepping for the role to which “Whitey” refused.