Black Mass: Alum's Book Goes to the Big Screen

May 28, 2014

Gerry O'Neill

Alumnus Gerry O’Neill ’64 recently met actor Johnny Depp on the set of the new movie Black Mass, which is based on the bestselling book about Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger that O’Neill co-wrote.

The retired reporter visited the movie set in East Cambridge, which doubled as South Boston. While there, O’Neill saw ten takes of Whitey, played by Depp (pictured below), in action with fellow gangsters. O’Neill spoke briefly with Depp who was in costume, complete with “a shiny high forehead, hair swept back, prominent blue contact lenses, and Whitey’s air of menace.”

O’Neill adds that the director, Scott Cooper, “ has been great to deal with. He's calmly in charge and has an impressive grasp of the characters and story line.” Currently in production, the true crime movie is slated for an October 2015 release.

A Pulitzer prize-winning former Boston Globe investigative reporter, O'Neill is the co-author of the critically acclaimed book "Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss," which is the third in a trilogy on Bulger, the Boston Mafia and corruption in the FBI.  

At Stonehill, O'Neill studied English and history, and wrote for The Summit. After he graduated, he made his way to the Boston Globe. Starting as a copy boy, he worked his way up to lead the paper's elite Spotlight investigative team for 25 years. In addition to his Pulitzer and many other national writing awards, 

O'Neill became the first Stonehill alumnus to receive the College's Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1973.