Summary: Johnny Depp has made a name for himself as one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. From his early days in movies like Edward Scissorhands to his most recent roles, he has shown his range and versatility. One of his most challenging roles was that of the notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in the movie “Black Mass.” In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Depp’s portrayal of Bulger and examine some of the controversies it sparked.
1. The Transformation
Johnny Depp is known for his transformations, both on and off screen. To play Whitey Bulger, he underwent a radical physical change. He gained weight, shaved his hairline, and had prosthetic teeth fitted. But the transformation went beyond just his appearance. Depp spent time with Bulger’s former associates and even met with the man himself while he was serving a life sentence in prison. He used these experiences to inform his performance, creating a character that was both terrifying and magnetic.
However, some critics felt that the transformation was too over-the-top. They accused Depp of hiding behind the makeup, rather than truly inhabiting the character. Others argued that the movie failed to grapple with Bulger’s real-life crimes, instead glorifying him as a gangster anti-hero.
Despite the controversy, there is no denying that Depp’s portrayal of Whitey Bulger was a tour-de-force performance. He brought a depth and complexity to the role that few other actors could have achieved.
2. The Accusations of Domestic Abuse
In 2016, just months after the release of “Black Mass,” Johnny Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard filed for divorce, alleging that Depp had physically abused her throughout their relationship. The news caused a storm of controversy, with fans and critics alike questioning whether they could still support Depp’s work in light of the accusations.
Depp denied the claims, and several of his former partners spoke out in his defense. However, after an ugly and protracted legal battle, it was revealed that Depp had settled with Heard for $7 million. Many believe that this settlement was an admission of guilt on Depp’s part, and it damaged his reputation irreparably.
Throughout the controversy, Depp continued to work on films like “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” However, some critics argued that his personal life had overshadowed his performances, and that it was becoming increasingly difficult to separate the art from the artist.
3. The Controversy Over Casting
Before “Black Mass” was even released, it was generating controversy for its casting choices. Some critics pointed out that Johnny Depp, a white actor, had been cast to play a notorious Boston gangster who was known for his Irish heritage. Others argued that Depp’s star power had obscured more deserving actors, such as Joel Edgerton, who played Bulger’s FBI handler.
The debate continued after the movie’s release, with many criticizing the filmmakers for perpetuating Hollywood’s tendency to whitewash stories about people of color. At the same time, others defended Depp’s performance, arguing that an actor’s job is to embody a character, regardless of their own ethnicity or background.
While the controversy over casting may have hurt “Black Mass”‘s critical reception, it did little to dent its box office success. The movie ended up grossing over $99 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits of Depp’s career.
4. The Legacy of Whitey Bulger
“Black Mass” was not the first film to explore the life and crimes of Whitey Bulger. Over the years, there have been many documentaries, books, and movies about the notorious gangster and his reign of terror over Boston’s criminal underworld.
However, “Black Mass” was perhaps the most high-profile and controversial depiction of Bulger yet. It portrayed him as a violent but charismatic figure who commanded loyalty from his followers and fear from his enemies. It also explored the corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI, which allowed him to operate with impunity for so many years.
Despite the accolades that Depp’s performance received, the controversy surrounding “Black Mass” has cast a shadow over its legacy. Many critics have argued that the movie failed to truly examine the horrors of Bulger’s crimes or the full extent of his brutality. Instead, it presented him as a larger-than-life character, worthy of admiration and respect.
Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass” was one of the most challenging roles of his career. He transformed himself physically and emotionally to bring the notorious gangster to life on screen. However, the controversy surrounding the film – from accusations of domestic abuse against Depp to debates about casting choices – has overshadowed the movie’s critical and commercial success. Despite these controversies, “Black Mass” remains a fascinating glimpse into the life and crimes of one of America’s most infamous villains.