Matt Damon and Ben Affleck‘s plans for a film based on crime boss Whitey Bulger has been met with a mixed response from those connected to him.
The pair last week announced plans to reunite for a film about the Boston criminal, with Damon starring as Bulger and Affleck in the director’s chair.
Bulger set himself up as a ‘Robin Hood’ style figure, but became involved in racketeering and has been connected to 19 murders. He was caught earlier this year, at the age of 81 after 16 years on the run. And although Damon and Affleck both grew up in the Boston area, there have been doubts cast locally over whether the film is a good idea, according to the Boston Globe.
Tommy Donahue, whose father was allegedly killed by Bulger and his henchmen, said: “If anyone makes this movie, I’m pleased it’s these two. They’re brilliant. But I definitely have mixed emotions about this. Hopefully they can depict Whitey Bulger for what he is. They’ll need to do their homework though.”
Attorney Anthony Cardinale, who represented New England mafia boss Francis Salemme in a case that helped expose Bulger’s corrupt FBI ties, said: “If it’s done honestly [Damon] will look like an idiot, a treacherous piece of junk. It’ll be a bad career move for him. [If not done accurately] it’s a worse career move.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Foley, the former Massachusetts State Police Colonel who was instrumental in building the case against Bulger, questioned whether any film could accurately portray the facts of the case “without making [Bulger] any more of a celebrity than he is now”, particularly since he became an FBI informant in the 1970s. Foley said: “What angle will they take? I don’t know, but this happened over many years. It’s hard to get your arms around all that in a two-hour movie.”
And Robert Fitzpatrick, a former FBI Boston officer supervisor whose book comes out in January, is concerned about how the FBI will be portrayed in the movie, adding that “the Bulger affair was as complicated an affair as I’ve ever seen in the bureau”.