Well this has been quite the saga.
A little over eight months since Johnny Depp dropped out of Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass he’s now officially back on board. Depp, who was (and is again) slated to play notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, left the production last May after budget concerns led to a contract re-negotiation. Barry Levinson (Sleepers, Wag the Dog) had been attached to direct with Joel Edgerton on to play Bulger’s childhood friend and crooked FBI handler Jack Connelly. Both men have now left the project, but as we reported a few weeks ago, Out of the Furnace writer/director Scott Cooper has come aboard re-tool first time feature writer Mark Malouk’s script and helm the production.
As mentioned, it’s not looking like Edgerton will be back, perhaps due in part to a scheduling conflict – he just started shooting Joe Nichols’s follow up to last year’s Mud, entitled Midnight Special. According to a Deadline report, the man in talks to replace him is none other than Edgerton’s Warrior co-star, Tom Hardy. Hardy has the Elton John biopic Rocketman upcoming, but that isn’t expected to start filming until this fall. He will be peppering the big screen, though, with Locke (April 25), The Drop (September 19), and Child 44 all expected this year.
Production on Black Mass is (somewhat ironically, given the timing of Depp’s departure last year) expected to begin this May. Distribution in the U.S. hasn’t been sorted out yet, although co-producer Exclusive Media is shopping rights at Berlin, so that could come soon.