Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio is turning baddie for the movie adaptation of The Devil in the White City where he will play a charming serial killer prowling the streets of 1993 Chicago.
Based on the November Erik Larson's acclaimed novel of the same name, the novel was on
the New York Times bestseller list for three years. It has sold 2.3 million copies and has been translated into 17 languages.
The story, which has always fascinated Hollywood, is on the lives of two men who turned the 1893 Chicago World's Fair into their playground.
One man is Daniel H Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction. He overcame several obstacles to construct the famous White City around which the fair was built while the other man H H Holmes, to be played by DiCaprio, was a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.
Holmes is said to be behind scores of murders around the time of the fair. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, which had a crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims to their death.
DiCaprio is also producing the movie with his Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran, along with Double Feature principals Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, the Hollywood Reporter said.
"I think that a guy who is that intelligent and that charismatic is nothing less than complex, and it's that complexity that (DiCaprio) is drawn to. And because people don't know much about (Holmes), it makes it even more interesting," Killoran said about DiCaprio's decision to play the villain.
Earlier, Hurt Locker helmer Kathryn Bigelow was attached to direct and produce at one point, and Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner were also developing an adaptation.
The story is yet to have a studio and financing but DiCaprio's involvement in the project is soon to attract both. The producers are now looking for a writer-director to help write a screenplay that will do justice to the story.
The role may land DiCaprio his first Oscar. Despite his critically acclaimed performances in films like The Aviator, The Departed, Blood Diamond and The Revolutionary Road, the golden man has eluded the actor so far.
Charlize Theron had earned the best actress Oscar her role of a serial killer in Monster. Will Smith, Johnny Depp and Anthony Hopkins are the other actors, who have played serial killers onscreen.