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Ben Affleck Helming Whitey Bulger Biopic; Director Starring With Matt Damon and Casey Affleck

Written by on October 24, 2011 

Argo is shooting, a Tell No One remake and Line of Sight are possibilities, and The Stand has been offered to him — I think we can now simply refer to Ben Affleck as a director. Sure, his currently-shooting project has him in what’s ostensibly the lead role, and it’s nigh impossible to picture him never acting again, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that he hasn’t found a natural habitat behind the camera.

Deadline now tells us of yet another project for the Gone Baby Gone and Town helmer: A biopic of notorious mobster Whitey Bulger that will star him, Matt Damon, and Casey Affleck. The director and Damon will produce through their company, Pearl Street Films, while Warner Bros. will distribute.

The ground covered entails “Bulger’s youth to his incarceration on Alcatraz, through his rise to become a mob boss while secretly serving as an FBI informant for decades.” Past his childhood, Damon will be playing the mobster — funny to consider, since he was one of the leads of The Departed, whose villain (played by Jack Nicholson) was heavily inspired by Bulger. The Affleck brothers, meanwhile, will be in supporting roles.

Though non-Boston natives might not instantly recognize the name, the Irish mobster was one of the most wanted men in the world when he fleed law enforcement in 1995. After being pursued for more than sixteen years, during which time he was often second to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s most-wanted list, he was captured this June. In light of this event, others want to make him the subject of films; Twilight‘s Peter Facinelli is producing a feature, for example. No disrespect to that project, but this has immediately vaulted it in terms of anticipation.

Affleck said that much of this project’s development stems from Damon and he “looking for something to do together for some time,” coupled with the two of them hearing about his crimes since childhood. A connection to the time and place (the two grew up in Boston) could lend a sense of authenticity; the sense of atmosphere has been one of the finer aspects of Affleck‘s directorial output. Also serving as a boost of confidence is the involvement of Terence Winter — the Sopranos writer and Boardwalk Empire creator will handle scripting duties.

Looking at all the pieces being assembled here, it’s difficult to not feel immense excitement at the thought of what the team will be able to pull off with what they’re given. Bulger is an absolutely fascinating man — from his FBI informant status to alleged bisexuality, there’s a lot of room for moral and social complexity, something we managed to get snapshots of in The Departed. If you were like most people and loved that character, imagine a whole movie about him that stars Matt Damon. And then commence your excitement.

Would you want to see a Whitey Bulger film from Affleck and friends?


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