Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is the kind of notorious, made-for-the-movies character who motivates actors to brush up on their scowls. With Bulger's conviction Monday on charges of murder, extortion, money laundering and weapons possession, the 83-year-old gangster's story now has its third act.
Bulger, an FBI informant who fled from authorities in 1994 before being discovered and arrested at a Santa Monica apartment in 2011, is already the subject of multiple films.
Jack Nicholson portrayed a sadistic, Bulger-modeled Irish mob boss in Martin Scorsese's 2004 Oscar winner, "The Departed," delivering memorable lines like, "Lots of people had to die for me to be me. You wanna be me?"
Two other movies have long been in the works -- director Barry Levinson's adaptation of "Black Mass," a book by two former Boston Globe reporters, and a Ben Affleck-directed biopic starring his friend Matt Damon as Bulger.
With Bulger's long, labyrinthine story starting in the North End of Boston in 1929 and ending in a courtroom in 2013, a biopic could focus on any one of several periods in his life, and feature an actor of nearly any age. Here are some options:
Josh Hutcherson: At 20, the "Hunger Games" star is a prime age to portray Bulger's troubled youth in the Boston projects, when he ran with a street gang called the Shamrocks, joined the Air Force and ultimately went AWOL.
Mark Wahlberg: As a native Bostonian who has served prison time, Wahlberg shares some key traits with Bulger and, at a youthful-looking 42, can play him during the 1950s and '60s, when he first went to prison for armed robbery and was witness to Boston's Irish gang wars.
Matt Damon: As a native Bostonian who hasn't served prison time, Damon, also 42, could play Bulger during his pivotal mid-life, when he was a participant in a government LSD experiment and worked as a janitor and a construction worker before ultimately joining the Irish mob.
Liam Neeson: The 61-year-old Irish actor has shown he has a tough side in the "Taken" movies, and he's the prime age to play Bulger at the height of his power in the 1980s, when he ruled Boston's Winter Hill gang with an iron fist, and used his status as an FBI informant to take down opponents.
Robert Duvall: The 82-year-old "Godfather" star knows mobster movies, and he's the perfect fit to portray Bulger's post-1994 life on the run, right up until his discovery in a Santa Monica apartment with $800,000 in cash, 30 guns and his longtime girlfriend.
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun