Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly will star in the big screen adaptation of Erik Larson’s nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. The movie will be directed by frequent DiCaprio collaborator Martin Scorsese.
DiCaprio will play the role of serial killer H.H. Holmes, one of the most prolific murderers in the history of Chicago. The deceptively charming Holmes, who passed himself off as a doctor, is thought to be responsible for a number of murders around the time of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
The storyline centers on Holmes and another man, architect Daniel H. Burnham, who was responsible for designing and overseeing construction of the “White City” that hosted the fair. While Holmes preys upon the innocent, Burnham contends with an impossibly short time frame for his extravagant undertaking.
Holmes, who has was hanged in 1896, has been referred to as America’s first serial killer, in recent times compared to Hannibal Lecter. He confessed to killing 27 people, but some believe his victims numbered in the hundreds. The sadistic Holmes built a hotel, later dubbed “The Murder Castle,” where he tortured his victims.
International Business Times quoted a shocking statement that Holmes made during his trial: “I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the ‘Evil One’ standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.”
DiCaprio is as adept at portraying loathsome villains as he is at playing heroes, and he has wanted to play this role for some time, having acquired the rights to the project six years ago. The Hunger Games screenwriter Billy Ray is set to pen the script.
Scorsese and DiCaprio previously worked together in some of the actor’s best known films, including The Wolf of Wall Street, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Gangs of New York.
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