Johnny Depp was set to play Whitey Bulger in the upcoming film Black Mass, the true story of the godfather of the Irish Mob who went on to make the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. However, salary disputes have caused him to drop out.
While the film was recently sold at Cannes, it wasn’t for as much money as the producer’s had hoped. As a result, Depp was asked to star in the film for $10 million, down from his usual $20 million quote. Depp refused. The actor has been known to waive his large fee on passion projects before, but for whatever reason he wasn’t willing to budge on this one.
Black Mass is set in Boston and tells the story of Bulger and an FBI Agent making a dirty deal to trade secrets and take down Boston’s Italian Mafia. Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty) will play the FBI Agent. With the Boston setting and the two main characters infiltrating the police department/mob, the premise sounds somewhat similar to The Departed. There’s a reason for that. Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed was loosely based on Bulger.
Barry Levinson will direct the film, but he seems to have bad luck when it comes to mafia biopics as his John Gotti film starring John Travolta was never able to get off the ground. However, Levinson has proven to be adept at this subject matter having helmed 1991’s Bugsy.
Hopefully they will be able to find a suitable replacement for Depp in time for the proposed 2014 release date.