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Scribe Hired for Leonardo DiCaprio-Starring ‘The Devil in the White City’

Written by on December 17, 2011 

I was immensely excited to hear that Leonardo DiCaprio was venturing into dark territory for The Devil in the White City, an adaptation of Erik Larson‘s novel which would have him play a ruthless killer. Then, because that news was almost a little too good, nothing else happened afterward.

But, now, Deadline reports that a writer has been found: Graham Moore, whose spec script The Imitation Game was being set up as a starring role for DiCaprio two months before it hit the top of the Black List. Raw talent is as good a qualification as any, but Moore also told Deadline that he’s been “obsessed with Devil in the White City for a decade”; having grown up in the same area as the book’s events, he sees the job as “a dark and twisted tribute to my hometown.”

The book’s dark and twisted events involve the chronicling Dr. HH Holmes, a man who “preyed on anywhere from 27 to 200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World’s Fair of 1893.” Through the building of The World’s Fair Hotel, Holmes “used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a ‘murder castle,'” which featured a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table,” the lattermost of which would be used for the purpose of obtaining and selling skeletons. Not counting J. Edgar Hoover, Holmes will probably be the most sickening character in DiCaprio‘s career.

I’d say the momentum attained by this move is enough to make me happy; the potential of the man who’s been hired is an even bigger boost. Just look at some of his ambitions, which make it clear that we won’t be getting a cut-and-dry depiction. One intent is to “tell the Holmes story from his perspective, and put a little humanity into him,” while also including “what ways we notice bits of him that exist inside us and don’t make us feel very good.” So long as they can get the right director behind the camera — something DiCaprio has a real knack for — The Devil in the White City could shape up to be tremendous.

Are you looking forward to Devil in the White City? What does this hire signify to you?


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