The Whitey Bulger movie backed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon is moving ahead, with a new screenwriter, Aaron Stockard, according to Deadline.com. If the name rings a bell, that’s because Stockard was also a writer on two of Affleck’s earlier projects, “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone,” and it appears he’s replaced the project’s original screenwriter, Terence Winter, creator and writer of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”
Deadline.com reports that Affleck and his brother, Casey, are still planning to star in the movie alongside Damon. (The three last worked together on “Good Will Hunting,” for which Ben Affleck and Damon shared an Oscar for the screenplay.)
In the Whitey movie, which Ben Affleck plans to direct, Damon is expected to play the notorious South Boston gangster whose life of crime ended with his arrest in June 2011 and his conviction this summer on 11 counts of murder. Stockard’s work will focus, according to Deadline.com, on Bulger’s trial and conviction.
Stockard is a Cambridge native and childhood friend of the Afflecks. In 1998, while a 25-year-old film student at Emerson, Stockard talked to the Globe about hanging out in the Afflecks’ basement with a dozen or so others, playing video games and telling dirty jokes.
“We went through puberty together,’’ Stockard said. “I can’t imagine anything more awkward than that.’’
Of course, Damon and Ben Affleck have plenty of cred when it comes to the Hub, having grown up in Cambridge and made various Boston-based films. Aside from “Good Will Hunting,” Damon played a dirty cop in Martin Scorsese’s crime film “The Departed,” and Affleck shot “Gone Baby Gone” in and around Dorchester, and “The Town” in Cambridge, Charlestown, and the North End.
Damon and Affleck aren’t the only filmmakers with an eye on the Whitey story. A competing film based on the book “Black Mass,” by former Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, is in the works, but its status is unclear since Johnny Depp, who was set to play Bulger, bailed on the project. His departure has delayed production until February, which raises a question about whether Barry Levinson will still be directing. Levinson has signed on to direct a movie based on the best-selling novel “The Cursed Piano,” and that could conflict with “Black Mass.”