I don’t mean to make Matt Damon sound like a bully, but is kind of hilariously dickish of him to expect all other projects revolving around Whitey Bulger to shut down now that he and Ben Afleck are swinging their big dicks into the ring and making a real movie out of the man’s life.
“There are a couple of competing movies and I don’t think it’s been announced yet that we’re doing it,” Damon says. “But the sooner it’s announced the better, just because everyone else will back off, hopefully. I’m really excited about it.”
What Damon is referring to, while talking to GQ, is a project he and Ben Affleck have set up at Warner Brothers to tackle the life of Whitey Bulger, the Irish mob boss-cum-FBI informant who was already quite well tackled (though loosely) by The Departed a few years ago, and was captured in real life just earlier this year. The “competing movies” he refers to include one from Departed producer Graham King that follows the life of one of Bulger’s enforcers, another that is an adaptation of the novel Black Mass that details the story that The Departed was based on, and finally an adaptation of the book Street Solider that details the story of a different Bulger enforcer.
If there’s a reason Damon has the stones to explicitly expect the other projects to back up off his Irish mob kool-aid –other than the backing of the biggest studio in Hollywood and the partnership of his popular cohort, of course– it’s that they’ve also got Terrence Winter in bed with them to write the script. Winter is the high-profile Sopranos alumni who is currently behind the most sophisticated show on television, Boardwalk Empire.
What’s funny is that for all his territorial talk, Damon and co. don’t even know what story they’re telling yet.
“If it’s a straight biopic, we’ll do it over a period of time. But it’s always a question of what part of the story do you tell, and biopics are always a little cumbersome,” Damon says. “So do we find another way in? We’re still figuring it out.”
It’s almost like one of the most well-resourced and high-pedigreed group of collaborators in Hollywood suddenly saw everyone else playing with their gangster toys and decided they wanted to play with them now. All that said, I’m just ribbing Damon a little bit– most know you have to dig deep in Hollywood just to find someone half as gentlemanly (though he can pretend to be a shithead with the best of ’em).
In any event, this isn’t the only project the partners have going with WB: we’ve covered Affleck’s talks concerning The Stand already, as well as Damon’s directorial debut set-up with the studio. Even when they were winning Oscars right out of the gate, who would have guessed these two would have become such powerhouses?
As for the biopics and mob films: I’m sure they’ll scare off some of those other projects, but I wonder which of the three will keep stubbornly keep on and become the “other” Irish mob movie in the same year.