Johnny Depp has come under fire for defending mob Whitey Bulger, who he plays in the new film Black Mass, as a guy with a “kind heart.”
Depp has won world renown as an actor who enjoys immersing himself fully in the skin of the characters he plays. Be they pantomime pirates, emotionally-challenged chocolate factory owners, or as in this case of Black Mass, a cold-blooded killer.
Depp’s portrayal of Whitey Bulger in Black Mass has been heralded as a return to form for the troubled thespian, whose credibility has been shot in recent years after selling his services, if not his soul, to Walt Disney and dancing to the devil dollar’s tuneless tune.
So convincing was Depp as Bulger that the mobster’s former nemesis, Detective Lieutenant Bob Long, now retired, confessed the similarities were uncanny.
“When I was watching Johnny Depp on the screen, I actually thought I was looking at Whitey Bulger.”
Boston mobster Whitey Bulger was a crime boss of the Winter Hill Gang. Prior to his arrest on June 22, 2011, he was on the run for 16 years. For 12 of those years, Bulger was second only to Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List.
On November 14, 2013, Bulger was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus five years for his crimes, which included his complicity in 11 murders.
On paper at least, you wouldn’t necessarily describe Bulger as a nice guy. Johnny Depp it appears begs to differ, and told WVCB, “There’s a kind heart in there.”
As if giving a masterclass on how in touch with the world and keenly aware of everyday reality the Hollywood royal family are, Depp added, “There’s a cold heart in there. There’s a man who loves. There’s a man who cries. There’s a lot to the man.”
Depp also told Associated Press that his responsibility as an obscenely rich, and some would say criminally overpaid, actor, is to find the humanity in killers such as Whitey Bulger.
“No matter how good that person is deemed, no matter how bad that person is deemed, by anyone and everyone, my responsibility was to do my best to represent him in a human light.”
As if in love with the sound of the shovel hitting the earth and the good honest day’s toil that digging your own hole can provide, Depp goes onto congratulate Whitey for getting away with murder for as long as he did and not being stung in the least little bit by the pangs of an old-fashioned thing called a conscience.
“No disrespect to any victims or families of victims, but there was some element for me that was kind of glad that he got away. For 16 years he was on the run and he wasn’t causing any trouble. He was living his life. Good on him.”
The Boston Globe reports that the families of some of Bulger’s victims are deeply upset by Depp’s insensitive and ill-thought out comments, and have slammed the Hollywood actor for living in cloud cuckoo land.
Michael Donahue was shot to death by Bulger in 1982, and his widow, Patricia, finds Depp’s comments repulsive.
“This is not Hollywood, this is the real thing here. How can you be glad that someone who killed a lot of people goes on the run? How can you have compassion for that person knowing what he’s done?
I think Depp should have spoken to the victims before he took on this movie or got the papers from the trial to see how these victims felt and what [Bulger] was really like.
The people who are human are the people who were killed, not Bulger. He’s a sicko, a psycho.”
Bill St. Croix’s sister, Deborah Hussey, was murdered by Bulger in 1985. She was just 26, and her outraged brother wants to know how Depp would feel if the mobster had murdered his own sister.
“I wonder how Johnny Depp would feel if his sister got strangled and buried in the basement with two other corpses? There’s nothing humane about Jimmy Bulger. Shame on [Depp]. That was a very stupid, insensitive comment.”
Edward Connors was murdered by Bulger in 1975, and although his son, Tom Connors, takes a more philosophical view when it comes to Depp’s comments, he still appears to indicate the actor is talking out of places that don’t usually speak.
“I guess everybody has at least some good in him, but any good [Bulger] has in him is definitely overshadowed by all the bad he’s done.”
[Image Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images]