Fear not, fans of cinema’s favorite boys from Boston, it looks like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reteaming for a new project (and it’s not their long-rumored true-life wife-swapping story of baseball players Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, The Trade) that centers on one of their hometown’s most notorious residents. Affleck and Damon are looking to get their gang of two back together for a Whitey Bulger biopic; Bulger is the former leader of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, a cold-blooded member of the Irish Mob, responsible for both years of organized crime and reportedly (at least) 19 murders. Bulger was also a long-time FBI informant who was reportedly tipped off by his own FBI handler that was going to be arrested and indicted for federal racketeering. Bulger and his girlfriend fled Boston in 1995, and had been hiding out for sixteen years before they were caught just this June in sunny Santa Monica, California.
Should Affleck and Damon’s film come together, Affleck will direct, with Damon starring as Bulger himself. Damon reports that Terence Winter, creator of Boardwalk Empire, is writing the script. The film would be produced through Warner Bros. and Affleck and Damon’s own Pearl Street Films. THR also reports that Affleck would co-star, with his own talented baby brother Casey Affleck coming on board the cast as well. Damon himself is not sure what years he’d portray the criminal or what period the project would cover, saying “If it’s a straight biopic, we’ll do it over a period of time. But it’s always a question of what part of the story do you tell, and biopics are always a little cumbersome…We’re still figuring it out.”
Though Warner has not yet formally announced the project, Damon seemed eager to get the news out there, as there are a number of other Bulger films in the pipeline and he hopes getting the word out would essentially get “everyone else [to] back off.” Those projects include producer Graham King’s (King himself produced the Damon-starring The Departed, in which Jack Nicholson’s character was based on Bulger, and Damon’s own character was based on that tipping-off handler), who has the rights to Winter Hill Gang’s chief enforcer’s, John Martorano, story. There is also producer Brian Oliver’s possible film, which would likely be based off Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book Black Mass. And, just for good measure, Peter Facinelli (yup, Papa Cullen from The Twilight Saga) is reportedly producing his own film, using the Edward MacKenzie and Phyllis Karas book, Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob.
As for The Trade? Damon said, “that might happen at some point” but that the Bulger picture would be the first project out of the gate. And what about Damon’s recently announced directorial debut, the one he’s penned with John Krasinski? There were numerous reports that the film would be a bit like Eric Brockovich, based on a “mass poisoning” in a small town – a rumor that Damon debunked. [GQ]