Peanut butter and jelly. Spaghetti and meatballs. Lamb and tuna fish. Some pairs are just perfect together. Add Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese to your list, if they weren’t on it already. The actor and director are set to team up once again in The Devil in the White City, the long-awaited adaptation of Erik Larson’s non-fiction book about America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who murdered an untold number (27 to 200) of people at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. DiCaprio will play that very villain, which is certainly a departure from his usual neutral-to-heroic protagonists, so maybe this will be the role that finally lands DiCaprio the Oscar that’s eluded him.
As Deadline reports, Paramount has finally closed a deal to acquire Larson’s “The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America”, outlasting five other studios, including the aggressive pursuit of Universal and Fox. It puts DiCaprio and Scorsese together for their sixth collaboration, with a script by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips). We’ve been following this one since late 2010, but the project seems to have gained momentum due to Warner Bros. letting their adaptation rights lapse last month, and because Ray recently cracked a difficult part of the story. His treatment for the two main characters – the man in charge of putting on the World’s Fair, and Holmes, who worked for him to gain access to victims – injected new life into the story, so to speak.
Previously, Graham Moore had been tapped to pen an adaptation of the book that centered on Holmes’ construction of the World’s Fair Hotel, which became known as the “murder castle. Holmes included a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table in order to properly study his guests after their untimely demise. DiCaprio and Scorsese are going to have a field day with this one.
Would you like to know more? Here’s a synopsis of the book (via Amazon):
Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city’s finest moment, the World’s Fair of 1893. Larson’s breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it.