Director Scott Cooper Talks Working with Johnny Depp on the Whitey Bulger Biopic BLACK MASS

     February 25, 2014


The powerful, intense and gripping family drama Out of the Furnace, from writer/director Scott Cooper, will be available on Blu-ray/DVD on March 11th.  Collider spoke to him about the release and got some great insight on his process, how he works with actors and what he wanted to achieve with that film, and we will run that portion of the interview closer to when it’s due out.  In the meantime, we also spoke to him about his next project, which he’s currently prepping, and wanted to share what he had to say about that.

Black Mass will tell the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger and what placed him on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, and it will star Johnny Depp in the lead role.  During the exclusive phone interview, Scott Cooper talked about getting to the root of the psychology and behavior, how he’s doing endless amounts of research, that he’s working from an already existing script that he’s personalizing and trying to make more humanistic, why the compelling nature of the story appealed to him, and that he’s already deep into collaborating with Johnny Depp, who he sees as one of the best actors in American screen history.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

out-of-the-furnace-scott-cooper-christian-baleCollider:  What are you going to be working on next, for your third film?

SCOTT COOPER:  Now, I am just about to tell a story about someone who is not personal to me, but I will get to the root of the psychology and behavior. 

That’s the Whitey Bulger biopic, Black Mass?

COOPER:  It is, James “Whitey” Bulger.  It’s a fascinating story.

Are you doing endless amounts of research on that?

COOPER:  It’s all that I do, 25 hours a day.  I’m very, very excited about it.

Was that something that was from a script that already existed, that you then added to, or did you start from scratch?

COOPER:  Yeah, there was a script.  It had a very, very good script that I’m just personalizing and trying to make more humanistic. 

whitey-bulger-mug-shot-1953What was it about Whitey Bulger that made you want to tell a story that you’re not personally connected to, in the way that you were with your first two films?

COOPER:  Well, it’s compelling nature, and you never want to repeat yourself.  The process of making very personal stories is very taxing.  It’s sometimes harrowing to release movies like Out of the Furnace, when you realize that audiences don’t particularly want to embrace the harsh realities of life and would prefer to be entertained, which I understand because we all live very difficult lives.  Perhaps audiences would like to laugh more than my film offers.  But, you can only make those films every so often.  They’re tough to recover from. 

Have you already started to collaborate with Johnny Depp and Tom Hardy on that, or is it not that far along yet?

COOPER:  Well, Johnny is the only actors who’s cast, and yes, Johnny and I are deep into it.

Do you enjoy working with actors who really like to have a say in what they’re doing?

COOPER:  Yes, that’s the only way.  I only want to work with actors to have a strong point of view and who want to race to set.  And Johnny is that type of actor.  He is a consummate actor.  He’s always pushing himself and always playing something different.  He’s one of the best actors in American screen history.  Our hope is to really craft a full-bodied portrait in ways that you haven’t seen.  It’s exciting to see an actor like Johnny really attracted to a part like this because you’ve never seen him like this.

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