Leonardo DiCaprio Kills For "Devil in the White City"

11/04/2010 Posted by Admin

Leonardo DiCaprio Kills For "Devil in the White City"

Movie News

By our guest blogger, Matthew Jussim

With both "Shutter Island" and "Inception" hitting theaters in 2010, this was yet another big year for one of America's favorite leading men, Leonardo DiCaprio. The next year looks to be just as big. 

With his feet already dipped into the film "Prisoners" (in development) and Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic on the horizon, DiCaprio has added another very interesting option to the mix.

Through his production company Appian Way, the actor is set to star and produce the film adaptation of Erik Larson's bestselling book, "The Devil in the White City," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The nonfiction book, which spent three years on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold 2.3 million copies in 17 languages, is set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and tells the interweaving stories of two men--fair architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes.
In a short amount of time, Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, was forced to overcome immense obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built.

The other man, Holmes, was a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair. Holmes devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims to their death.

Armed with a gas chamber and a crematorium, Holmes would murder his victims and strip them to their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study. Holmes killed at least 27 people, though some say the number was closer to 200.

Aside from the fact that the story is amazingly interesting, DiCaprio is to play the "villain" of the film--the murder-minded Holmes rather than Burnham the architect.

The project has bounced around Hollywood since the book was released, with Tom Cruise's production company having picked up the rights to the book in 2003 (but let the option lapse), and once having Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct and produce.

DiCaprio's Appian Way, along with Double Features, acquired the screen rights to the book, and should soon be hiring a writer and director before making a deal with a larger studio.

It was rumored that David Fincher was interested in directing, but with him now on the adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," scheduling may not allow it. While a Finer-DiCaprio pairing would be almost too-good-to-be-true, I think any competent director could craft this story into an interesting film. DiCaprio has played such a wide variety of roles throughout his career that I have confidence in him taking on anything.

Not much is known to the public about Holmes, and I think it shows great range by DiCaprio to take on a character who is intelligent and charming--and also a mass murderer.

Depending on who they get to helm the film, this one could start moving quickly.

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