Currently filming in Boston, Johnny’s at it again with a costume that renders him unrecognizable, and in a role that pits his character against the FBI.
In 2009, we saw Depp bring renown gangster, John Dillinger, to life (and death) in a portrayal that eschewed legend and Hollywood flash for crisp realism and honesty. It was Dillinger vs. anything that would defy him, including J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.
In Black Mass, which is based on a book of the same title, the path is perhaps more Byzantine. Depp portrays Boston’s Irish crime boss, ‘Whitey’ Bulger, in a true story about a deal he made with the FBI in the 1970’s that later proved a colossal embarrassment to the FBI. In this deal, Whitey tipped off authorities to a rival Italian crime family in exchange for protection of his own interests. After a decades-long string of extortion, drug trafficking, money-laundering and murder, often in collusion with local authorities, the FBI could ignore him no longer, and Whitey would spend the next 16 years a fugitive.
Depp crafts masterful roles, really crawling into the skin of his characters, but this time, we’ll see him sport a receding hairline and face with an eerie likeness to the mob boss who now sits incarcerated in Tucson. Knowing Johnny’s ability to present multi-layered characters who give exactly what is needed to a story, this grisly tale is apt to be at once exciting and sobering. But don’t expect America’s immortal leading man to trigger goosebumps for his rakish good looks. Expect them for his evocation of a calculating, nasty piece of work.
Black Mass—Scott Cooper directs; based on book, Black Mass, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill; with Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, et al; Brett Granstaff, producer. Expected U.S. release: 2015.