By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 18, 2012 at 10:24AM
So, who is the right filmmaker to bring the story of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger to the big screen? One of the biggest news stories of the last year, the FBI made headlines worldwide when they finally nabbed Bulger—on their top ten Most Wanted list for the past few decades—who had been hiding out in California for years. The head of the legendary Boston outfit the Winter Hill gang, Bulger ruled with an iron fist, stacking up 21 bodies in addition to numerous other charges including racketeering. The great irony here, of course, is that Bulger was at one time an informant for the FBI and his agent/handler John J. Connolly had initially tipped him off that the feds were closing in. So yeah, the screenplay for this writes itself, and last fall, Boston boys Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announced there were planning a movie with "Boardwalk Empire" writer Terence Winter penning the script. But it seems another Boston native may want to stomp on their turf.
Mark Wahlberg has recently revealed to Reuters (via Inquisitr) that he was been personally summoned to meet with Bulger. “I actually got a call about coming to see Whitey, he wants me to come down and visit him. Maybe he’ll give me the exclusive rights to tell his story, because he knows we can do it better than anybody else,” Wahlberg boasted.
Of course, this isn't the first time Damon or Wahlberg have heard of Bulger; he's an infamous legend to Bostonians. Furthermore, there is Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" that they both worked on, and Bulger is said to have been a big influence on the character Frank Costello played by Jack Nicholson.
Who will get there first? It's anybody's guess. The rights to the story of Bulger would no doubt be integral, but not necessarily a deal breaker, in bringing a movie to the big screen. In fact, there are already three competing projects in the works: producer Graham King has something brewing based on the rights purchased from the Winter Hill Gang's chief enforcer, John Martorano; "Twilight" actor Peter Facinelli is producing an adaptation of Edward MacKenzie and Phyllis Karas’ book, “Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer For Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob” and writer Russell Gerwitz (“Inside Man”) is penning the thriller “Black Mass” for “Black Swan” producer Brian Oliver. So, as you can see, there are a number of angles from which to approach this.
But of everybody here, there is no one more determined than Wahlberg, who once he sinks his teeth into something, tends not to let it go. "What makes Mark such a good producer is while he's very aware of the budget and pays close attention to the numbers, he has a strong vision of what movie he's making and does whatever he needs to do to reach that vision. He doesn't compromise it for anything," "Contraband" casting director Sheila Jaffe recently told the Charlotte Observer. Of anybody here, we could see him fighting the hardest for it, and of course, he has the connections and track record to back it up.
So how these possibilities will all unfold will be interesting to watch, but in some way or another, a Whitey Bulger movie is coming. And perhaps, maybe even more than one.