Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

Names

Johnny Depp or Matt Damon? You decide.

Johnny Depp, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Matt Damon

(From left to right) Johnny Depp, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Matt Damon.

Wait, actor Johnny Depp will be playing James “Whitey” Bulger in the big screen version of Dick Lehr and Gerry O’Neill’s book “Black Mass”? We’re skeptical. What could Edward Scissorhands possibly know about Winter Hill? And can Depp play a better Whitey than Matt Damon, who was in “The Departed” and has already committed to portraying the infamous mob boss in a separate Bulger biopic to be directed by Ben Affleck ? That got us thinking about the actors’ resumes.

Previous gangster flick

Depp: Though famous for his freaky roles in Tim Burton films, Depp was excellent in “Donnie Brasco,” director Mike Newell ’s 1997 movie about an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates the Bonanno crime family.

Continue reading below

Damon: Forget the “Bourne” franchise, Damon’s best role may have been as duplicitous Sergeant Colin Sullivan in “The Departed,” Martin Scorsese ’s Oscar-winning movie loosely based on the Whitey Bulger story.

Adventures on the high seas

Depp: The shaggy-haired actor has made a fortune playing swashbuckling Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, which has grossed billions worldwide.

Damon: Made a few bucks in “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

Stone most closely associated with

Depp: The actor, something of a hanger-on when it comes to rock stars, pals around with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and even modeled his look in “Pirates of the Caribbean” on the more dissolute of the Glimmer Twins.

Damon: Plymouth Rock.

Musical masterpiece

Depp: An amateur guitarist, Depp was once in a band with members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Butthole Surfers, and the Sex Pistols, and he shows up in videos by Tom Petty , the Lemonheads, and Avril Lavigne .

Damon: Plays Scott Thorson , Liberace ’s lover, in Steven Soderbergh ’s new movie about the flamboyant pianist.

TV ignominy

Depp: Before “21 Jump Street,” Depp was in a short-lived TV series called “Lady Blue,” starring Jamie Rose as a female detective in Chicago. Miss it? We did, too.

Damon: In the 1990 TV movie “Rising Son,” Damon played the ne’er-do-well son of characters played by Brian Dennehy and Piper Laurie .

Writer in residence

Depp: While making “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Depp became buddies with Hunter S. Thompson (below left) and used to stay with the gonzo journalist at his place in Woody Creek, Colo.

Damon: Was friends and neighbors with Howard Zinn (below right), author of “A People’s History of the United States.”

One degree of Winona Ryder

Depp: Dated her

Damon: Dated her

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week