Cambridge buddies Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are re-teaming to make a movie about James “Whitey’’ Bulger.
In an interview with GQ, Damon revealed that he’ll play the mob boss, Ben will direct, and Terence Winter, whose credits include “The Sopranos’’ and “Boardwalk Empire,’’ is writing the script for Warner Bros. It’s one of several Whitey-related movies that are in the works, and it’s clear Damon’s comments are intended to slow — perhaps even kill — the other projecfts.
“There are a couple of competing movies and I don’t think it’s been announced yet that we’re doing it,’’ Damon said of the Bulger pic. “But the sooner it’s announced the better, just because everyone else will back off, hopefully. I’m really excited about it.’’
It’s also surprising because Matt and Ben have several projects already lined up. Damon is set to co-star with Michael Douglas in a movie about Liberace and has signed on to direct and star in a project he co-wrote with John Krasinski, while Affleck is going to adapt and direct Stephen King’s “The Stand.’’ (The pair, who won Oscars in 1998 for their “Good Will Hunting’’ screenplay, were also to costar in “The Trade,’’ about Yankees pitchers who swapped wives in the ‘70s, but legal issues have delayed that.)
Among Bulger projects previously announced: Producer Graham King, who won an Oscar for “The Departed,’’ is working on a movie with Bulger henchman John Martorano; producer Brian Oliver is bringing “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob’’ to the big screen. (the book’s authors, former Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, are working on a second book that they hope will be the definitive Bulger bio); and actor Peter Facinelli is trying to produce a film based on “Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob,’’ the book by Edward MacKenzie and BU professor Phyllis Karas.
Contacted today, Karas said she’d heard rumors that Matt and Ben might be in on a Whitey movie. “With Warner Bros. involved, I’d imagine that [project] would take precedent, but who knows?’’ Karas said. “Those guys kind of rule Boston when it comes to this stuff.’’ (Karas told us that moviemakers have also expressed interest in optioning her book with Kevin Weeks, “Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob.’’)
Asked by GQ if he’ll play Whitey as a young gangster or a geezer fugitive, Damon said he doesn’t know. “If it’s a straight biopic, we’ll do it over a period of time,’’ he said. “But it’s always a question of what part of the story do you tell, and biopics are always a little cumbersome. So do we find another way in? We’re still figuring it out.’’