Boston home town boys, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who long ago went Hollywood, but continue to keep their home town roots and humility in many ways, plan to reteam for a new project that has a definite Beantown connection once again.
It’s been 14 years since the duo’s Oscar winning film “Good Will Hunting” catapulted the two close friends to fame and fortune in Hollywood. Now, both have found a project they feel passionate enough about to join forces once again to tell another compelling Boston story their way.
Affleck and Damon plan to film a biopic about Boston’s ruthless and notorious mobster, Whitey Bulger. Bulger had been on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for years, second only to Osama Bin Laden, and suspected in at least 19 murders in the 1970’s. Bulger was the head of South Boston’s infamous Winter Hill Gang, leading the mob with a cold-blooded iron fist leaving a trail of organized crime, callous brutality and vicious bloodshed in his wake.
Bulger was also a long-time FBI informant who eventually was tipped off by his own FBI handler, John Martorano, that he was about to be indicted for federal racketeering. That tip prompted Bulger to go on the lam with girlfriend Catherine Greig in 1994, touching off a world-wide search for the couple by authorities.
The pair spent years in hiding and “on the run” before finally moving to Santa Monica, California in 1998, leading a very low-key, nearly anonymous lifestyle. They were arrested last June after a tip came in from a woman who once lived near them in the sunny seaside town.
For the new Bulger biopic, Affleck will return to his role behind the camera as the film’s director, while Damon will star as Bulger. According to reports, Affleck plans to tap Terrence Winter, creator of Boardwalk Empire, to pen the script. The film will be produced by Warner Brothers in connection with Affleck and Damon’s own Pearl Street Films company. There are also reports Affleck’s actor brother, Casey ( Gone Baby Gone ) would be involved in the planned project.
Damon admits to being anxious and excited to announce their plans for the project, especially since at least two, possibly three, competing biopics on Bulger’s story are also in development. Producer Graham King has the rights to the story of Bulger’s now infamous FBI handler and tipster, John Martorano. King produced the film, The Departed, which also starred Damon and along with co-star Jack Nicholson, was heavily influenced by Bulger’s life.
Also in development is another potential Bulger project by producer Brian Oliver, based on the book “Black Mass” authored by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. If that wasn’t enough, “Twilight” film series actor Peter Facinelli is reportedly working on an adaptation of Edward MacKenzie and Phyllis Karas’ book, “Street Soldier : My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and Boston Irish Mob”.
With all these Bulger themed and potentially competing projects percolating in Tinseltown, Damon felt it important to speak publicly about his and Affleck’s plans for their film in a sort of pre-emptive strike.
“There are a couple of competing movies and I don’t think it’s been announced yet that we’re doing it”, said Damon to GQ Magazine, “… but, the sooner it’s announced, the better, just because everyone else will back off… hopefully”.
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