Now we know what happens when Johnny Depp steps out of a black Escalade in Brookline: People scream. The actor, who plays Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass,” joined several of his cast mates and director Scott Cooper at a special screening of the movie Tuesday at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and the reaction among those gathered to gawk was, well, exuberant.
Depp doesn’t do a lot of press for his movies, and Tuesday was no exception. A publicist had whispered to us that the movie star would answer one question from the Globe. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Depp talked to a few TV stations and then wandered off the red carpet to greet fans who had crowded behind a barricade to get a glimpse of him.
Those who did walk the red carpet, which occupied a large swath of sidewalk on Harvard Street, included Dakota Johnson, who plays Bulger’s long-ago girlfriend Lyndsey Cyr in the movie, Rory Cochrane, who plays stone-cold killer Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Jesse Plemons, who’s Bulger’s knucklehead accomplice Kevin Weeks, Medford’s own Julianne Nicholson, as the wife of corrupt FBI agent John Connolly, and Cooper.
Cochrane said the cast felt a special responsibility to South Boston to tell the Whitey saga in a way that didn’t glamorize the gangster.
“It’s almost like they own the rights to any version of that story,” he said, holding an unlit cigarette as he talked. “Hopefully, we got it to a point where they’ll be receptive.”
Cooper called the Coolidge screening “the most important of my life” because Boston is so familiar with the Bulger story, and the film will either ring true here or it won’t.
“The fact is, every day that I came to the set I thought about the victims and the victims’ families,” he said. “It was very important to me not to trivialize or romanticize or glorify these men’s exploits because the emotional wounds have to yet heal and I don’t know that they ever will.”
Cooper seemed to take issue with a column in the Globe that questioned whether Bulger’s misdeeds should be fodder for entertainment.
“There will people who always say it’s too soon to make a film like this, people who write for [the Globe],” he said.
Tuesday’s screening was invitation-only, and many of the Boston actors and crew who worked on the film were not invited by Warner Bros. (Inexplicably, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, players Patrick Chung, Stephen Gostkowski, Jabaal Sheard, and Nate Ebner, and Clay Buchholz’s wife, Lindsay Clubine, were there Tuesday.) When some of the local talent complained about being stiff-armed, the studio scheduled a second preview screening, which will be held Wednesday at the Coolidge.
“Black Mass” opens in theaters on Friday.