Johnny Depp is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for his starring work as James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass.
But he didn’t get any help directly from the infamous Boston mobster, who is serving a double-life sentence in prison for multiple murders.
Depp admits he reached out to Bulger.
“I made a request to meet with Mr. Bulger and since he was not particularly a great fan of the book…and many of the other books written about him, I got a beautiful response through his attorney that said Mr. Bulger respectively declines,” Depp told E! News at the Black Mass premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Joel Edgerton costars in the Scott Cooper-directed movie as John Connolly, an FBI agent who is also serving time in prison for various charges, including second degree murder, stemming from his close ties to Bulger.
Edgerton said he’s a bit nervous that Bulger still has some power even though he’s behind bars. “The other day I referred to him as a psychopath in an interview,” the Aussie actor said at the HFPA/InStyle party at TIFF, adding, “I hope he doesn’t watch the interview and come looking for me.”
Johnny Depp’s involvement with Black Mass dates back to February 2013 when he was attached to star in the film, while Barry Levinson was still slated to direct and principal photography was scheduled to begin in May 2013. Depp briefly exited the project shortly after its sale at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival because of a salary dispute with Cross Creek Pictures. He later rejoined, however, at around the same time Scott Cooper was attached to replace Levinson as director, and his signing for the film was made official in February 2014.
In preparing for his role, Depp similarly studied surveillance and police audio footage involving Bulger. The actor was adamant in depicting the Boston gang leader’s criminal and personal life as would be ultimately portrayed in the film. To achieve that, Depp had attempted to meet with Bulger himself, but was declined a meeting and instead consulted Jay Carney, Bulger’s attorney. Carney appeared on the set during filming a few times to provide feedback on Depp’s performance.