Leonardo DiCaprio to play 1930s gangster or FBI agent in Michael Mann Depression Era-set project?
On which side of the law will Titanic and Gangs of New York actor Leonardo DiCaprio find himself: 1930s gangster or FBI agent?
Michael Mann’s planned Depression Era-set adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s nonfiction bestseller Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 will trace the evolution of the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the United States’ federal police force – a narrative previously covered in Mervyn LeRoy’s The FBI Story (1959), starring James Stewart as a dedicated FBI agent and Vera Miles as his wife, and based on a book by journalist Don Whitehead.
According to Variety, Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993) has been pegged as one of the film’s stars, though it remains unclear on which side of the legal fence he’ll stand.
Among potential criminals for DiCaprio to play are John Dillinger (Lawrence Tierney in 1945, Warren Oates in 1973), Baby Face Nelson (Mickey Rooney in 1957, C. Thomas Howell in 1996), and Pretty Boy Floyd (John Ericson in 1960, Martin Sheen in 1974 on TV).
As an aside, Public Enemies is unrelated to William A. Wellman’s 1931 classic The Public Enemy, starring studio era tough guy James Cagney and Edward Woods as Chicago gangsters, and featuring Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, and grapefruit victim Mae Clarke in supporting roles.
Leonardo DiCaprio as 1930s billionaire Howard Hughes
Leonardo DiCaprio’s most recent star vehicle, the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator is scheduled to come out in the United States in December 2004.
DiCaprio plays the notoriously eccentric (i.e., unbalanced) 1930s/1940s billionaire and sometime film producer (Hell’s Angels, The Outlaw), alongside Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner, Jude Law as Errol Flynn, Kelli Garner as Faith Domergue, Alan Alda as right-wing Republican Senator Owen Brewster, and Alec Baldwin as airline entrepreneur Juan Trippe.
Michael Mann had been initially slated to direct The Aviator, but ended up credited as one of the film’s producers.
Update: Released as Public Enemies in 2009, Michael Mann’s crime drama ultimately starred Johnny Depp as Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale as FBI investigator Melvin Purvis.
“Leonardo DiCaprio as 1930s Gangster or FBI Agent?” notes
See also: The Women remake in the works.
Leonardo DiCaprio The Aviator image: Miramax Films | Warner Bros.
“Leonardo DiCaprio as 1930s Gangster or FBI Agent?” last updated in April 2023.