In news that will come as a surprise to precisely no one, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are reteaming for another project. This time it’s an adaptation of the non-fiction novel The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At the Fair That Changed America, written by Erik Larson. I think they’ll just go with the first part as as a title…
While you might expect the popular director-actor duo to do traditional cops and criminals story with DiCaprio playing the hero, it’s actually the total opposite. DiCaprio is set to play Dr. HH Holmes (no relation), one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. He is said to have killed anywhere between 27 and 200 people in Chicago in 1893, working his cunning ways while the city was distracted by the famous World Fair. He’s described as the real life, 19th century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. Deadline has more details:
Holmes constructed The World’s Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a “murder castle,” a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes would murder his victims and strip their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study.
Apparently this has been a passion project for DiCaprio for quite a few years now but it’s finally moving ahead when Warner Bros. let the rights laps last month. The project was then at the centre of a fierce bidding war between five different studios, with Paramount winning out by offering an impressive seven figure deal and the little detail of Scorsese-DiCaprio coming aboard the project.
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, the upcoming Secret in the Their Eyes remake) will pen the script to the adaptation, which should prove an interesting departure for Scorsese and particularly DiCaprio, the latter of whom is not usually known for playing the outright bad guy, much less a serial killer.
That being said, he was able to make a pretty reprehensible character in The Wolf of Wall Street utterly compelling and earning himself a well-deserved Oscar nomination in the process. He’s also looking scarily intense and different in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant (if you haven’t watched that trailer, please do so now). This is obviously an intentional path in his career to surprise people. Playing a serial killer will certainly do that…