Friday, September 18, 2015
Johnny Depp’s Black Mass Reviewed By Whitey Bulger’s Camp
Last week, we determined thatWhitey Bulger, the notorious Boston-area gangsterJohnny Deppportrays in the new drama Black Mass, is probably the only person in the free world who hasrefused a private audience with the beloved movie star. And today, as the actor is coasting on the positive critical feedback he received in Toronto and Venice, a single pan for Depp’s revelatory performance has surfaced. . .from Bulger's camp.
“Johnny Depp might as well have been playing the Mad Hatter all over again as far as James Bulger is concerned,” Bulger’s defense attorney Hank Brennan tells People on behalf of his client, who is serving two life sentences in federal prison. “Hollywood greed is behind the rush to portray my client, and the movie missed the real scourge created in my client's case, the real menace to Boston during that time and in other mob cases around the country—the federal government's complicity in each and every one of those murders with the top echelon informant program.”
Brennan adds that Bulger is not interested in seeing the film, despite an apparent familiarity with Depp’s filmography.
Last week, Depp told reporters in Toronto that he reached out to Bulger before filming.
“I made an attempt to contact Mr. Bulger only out of respect. It's his life, and I'm playing him onscreen,,” Deppsaid. “And—as expected—I knew this wouldn’t happen, Bulger respectfully declined because I don’t believe he was a great fan of the book Black Mass. . .I also don’t believe he was a great fan of any of the books written about him.”
Despite Bulger's unwillingness to meet with him, Depp has spoken fairly about the gangster in the past few weeks, even being careful to refer to him as “Mr.” or “James” and never his nickname “Whitey,” which Bulger reportedly hates.
“The first thing for me was to understand him first and foremost as a human being,” Depp told press at a screening this week. “Anybody and everybody, especially the families of his victims, could say 'He's just an evil person.' I don't believe that exists. People have their humanity, everything they've carried with them since they were children. There's a side of James Bulger who is not just that man who was in that business.”
In the film, Depp portrays Bulger with surprising tenderness and sensitivity during certain early scenes, before personal tragedy sets his character off onto a path of criminal depravity. And although Brennan offered up a criticism of the film to press, Depp recently revealed that his otherattorney, Jay Carney, gave Depp some slight character assistance, even visiting the Black Mass set.
“Jay Carney was very helpful to me in finding [the character of] James Bulger,” Depp said in Toronto. “First and foremost, he said, ‘I ain’t gonna say nothin’ that Jimmy wouldn’t want me to say. I will say this, and I’ll say this, but I won’t say anything over here.’ But Jay came to the set a couple of times and watched, and he gave me a lot of confidence because he said he could feel his old friend in what I was doing, which was a very high compliment.”