Scott-Cooper-in-talks-to-direct-Black-MassAfter making his sophomore feature last year with the acclaimed Out of the Furnace, it looks like Scott Cooper has settled on his follow-up, with news surfacing that the writer-director is in talks to board Black Mass, the drama about the notorious Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive, Whitey Bulger.

Deadline reports that Cooper is negotiating to both direct and rewrite the script, which was first penned by Mark Mallouk, a co-executive producer on Ron Howard’s Rush.

And not only is the film coming close to finding its director, but the report also notes that talks are igniting once more with Johnny Depp to take the lead, after he exited the project last year, reportedly over salary, when Barry Levinson was then at the helm.

The title for the project is taken from Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s 2001 best-selling book, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob.

Bulger’s life sounds like it was made for the screen, let alone making for a riveting read, and the film was given its third act when Bulger was captured in California after more than a decade on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, ultimately leading to his current incarceration as of last month.

Courtesy of Amazon, here’s the synopsis for the revised edition of Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book:

Now for the first time in the UK, this US bestseller is revised and updated in the wake of the June 2011 capture of America’s most wanted mob boss – “Whitey” Bulger. John Connolly and James “Whitey” Bulger grew up together on the tough streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid-1970s, they met again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI’s Boston office whilst Whitey was godfather of the Irish Mob, feared throughout Boston as the city’s meanest enforcer. He wasn’t the sort of guy you’d admire, especially if you were in law enforcement. But John Connolly wasn’t like most FBI agents. He had worshipped Bulger since he was a kid and he had an idea, a scheme to bring Bulger into the FBI fold and into the Bureau’s big league himself. Connolly’s plan was to use Whitey Bulger as a top secret snitch in the FBI’s war against the Mafia. But Bulger had other plans and over time, the information started flowing the wrong way…

“Black Mass” is the chilling true story of a dark deal that spiralled out of control, leading to drug dealing, racketeering, and murder. An epic tale of violence, double-cross and corruption. It is also a book about the pull of place and the ties between people. Lehr and O’Neill take us deep undercover, exposing one of the worst scandals in FBI history and the black hearts of two old friends who preferred the darkness of permanent midnight.

Joel Edgerton is still attached to play Bugler’s childhood friend and FBI agent, John Connolly, with Universal on board to distribute through its deal with shingle Cross Creek Pictures.

Cooper made his debut with the Oscar-winning Crazy Heart, and has earned a lot of praise in recent months since he premiered his follow-up, Out of the Furnace, at the AFI Fest late last year. Clearly, the writer-director is showing no signs of slowing down, and a project like this – particularly if Depp comes back to the table – would all but definitely see him in awards territory whenever the film gets made.