Benedict Cumberbatch in talks to star alongside Johnny Depp in crime movie Black Mass

The actor has been approached to replace Guy Pearce

Benedict Cumberbatch is in talk to star alongside Johnny Depp in a crime drama about notorious Boston crime leader James “Whitey” Bulger.

But the well-spoken British actor will not be playing the organised crime thug, unsurprisingly.

Instead, he is in line to star as Whitey Bulger’s brother Billy, who went on to serve as a democratic Senator and president of the University of Massachusetts.

Guy Pearce was due to play the role but has dropped out of the project, with Cumberbatch now in talks to step replace the actor, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film, which is based on the book Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal, tells the story of Whitey Bulger, who spent much of his life behind bars.

When released from Alcatraz, he returned to organised crime and rose to power as an FBI informant to bring down the Italian mafia in New England.

The screenplay has been written by British playwright Jez Butterworth and Rush producer Mark Mallouk.

Scott Cooper, whose past credits include Crazy Heart (2009) and Out of the Furnace (2013), is on board to direct.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed Cumberbatch will star as a soldier stationed in Iraq for new film The Yellow Birds.

The 37-year-old is also due to begin filming on the fourth series of Sherlock.

Cumberbatch has been in high demand, appearing in five major film releases last year, including The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, 12 Years a Slave and Star Trek Into Darkness.

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