Jim Sheridan, who’s first five films tackled various Irish related topics, first diversified in 2005 with the 50 Cent vehicle, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ is returning to his beloved Irish themes with his latest project.
Sheridan will direct a script he and partner Nye Heron are penning based on the book “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. The focus of the story is on notorious Boston mobster and FBI informant Whitey Bulger.
Bulger rose to prominence in Boston as a feared enforcer and built the Winter Hill Gang into an enterprise that did everything from selling drugs to procuring guns for the Irish Republican Army. His rise was helped by John Connolly, a childhood pal who became an FBI agent. Bulger disappeared 14 years ago, creating a major law enforcement scandal.
“This is a story of a corrupt system and about how an angry guy became the second most wanted man after Bin Laden,” Sheridan said.
“Black Mass” was first optioned by Miramax for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. After it languished at Miramax, Producer Brian Oliver of Arthaus Pictures optioned it in 2006, but had to sit on it when the Oscar-winning The Departed become a definitive Boston Irish mob film.
The Departed producer Graham King is also diving into Bulger territory, having optioned the life story of John Martorano, a former enforcer for Bulger’s gang who killed 20 people and then turned government informant when he learned his bosses were informants.