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Johnny Depp goes cold-blooded in first photo from Black Mass

Johnny Depp needs a win. The acclaimed actor has added a long list of flops to his resume lately, including The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mortdecai. The actor is no doubt hoping that diving back into the murky world of organized crime will put him back on track. Black Mass casts Depp as notorious Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger  — and now we have our first look at him in character.

The first photo of Depp as Bulger debuted on Entertainment Weekly’s website, and features the actor looking grim as he walks away from what appears to be a dead body while toting a sawed-off rifle.

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johnny depp black massOne of the most notorious violent criminals of the modern era, Bulger eventually became an FBI informant in order to eliminate competition from an Italian mafia family when it threatened his ruthless organization’s turf in South Boston. After learning that federal prosecutors intended to indict him for his crimes after looking the other way for years, Bulger went into hiding in 1994 and spent more than a dozen years on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list — ranked just after al Queda leader Osama Bin Laden.

“He could be charming. He could be ruthless. He was like a cobra—you never knew where he could strike,” said Black Mass director Scott Cooper of Bulger in an interview with EW. “A lot of people on set knew Whitey intimately. They got chills at [Depp’s] resemblance. Some of them couldn’t even look at him. It’s easy to be the mustache twirling villain but this performance couldn’t be further from that. He is truly gifted.”

Cooper and Depp reportedly based the actor’s portrayal of Bulger on surveillance tapes and FBI photographs of the notorious criminal, who was sentenced to two consecutive life terms (plus five years) in 2013. Bulger was found guilty of 31 counts that included racketeering charges and 11 murders.

Along with Depp, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton, Juno Temple, Corey Stoll, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Jesse Plemons, and Peter Sarsgaard.

Black Mass hits theaters September 18.