Slain gangster Whitey Bulger hated Johnny Depp’s portrayal of him in Black Mass
Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, who was found dead in his prison cell on Tuesday, was not a fan of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of him in 2015’s drama, Black Mass. Bulger, who was convicted in 2013 for his part in the murders of 11 people, also inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Oscar-winner, The Departed.
Depp’s performance as Bulger was seen as a comeback for the actor, who’d spent many years up to that point playing larger-than-life characters in big-budget fantasy films. He wore heavy prosthetics, stained his teeth and altered his voice for his performance, for which he received multiple accolades, including nominations at the Critics’ Choice and SAG awards.
“It would have been easy to dive into this thing as if it were just simply a gangster film,” Depp said at Toronto International Film Festival screening of Black Mass. But director Scott Cooper made it “a story about people,” Depp added. “Present the people, warts and all, and then allow their personality, their way of life, to reveal themselves.”
Bulger did not meet with Depp to consult about the role. His lawyer, Hank Brennan, compared Depp’s performance to his work in Alice in Wonderland. “Johnny Depp might as well have been playing the Mad Hatter all over again as far as James Bulger is concerned,” Brennan told People. “Hollywood greed is behind the rush to portray my client, and the movie missed the real scourge created in my client’s case, the real menace to Boston during that time and in other mob cases around the country – the federal government’s complicity in each and every one of those murders with the top echelon informant program.”
Bulger was found unresponsive in his cell by guards at a West Virginia prison. He was captured in California in 2011 after a 16 year manhunt. He was killed on the same day that he arrived from a Florida prison. The Boston Globe reports that an inmate with mafia ties is being investigated for the crime. Bulger was severely beaten. He was 89.
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