Leonardo DiCaprio set to star as a serial killer in 'The Devil in the White City'

Leonardo-DicaprioImage Credit: Lester Cohen / WireImage.comTalk about a killer role: Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as one of the most notorious murderers in U.S. history in a big-screen adaptation of Erik Larson’s 2003 nonfiction bestseller The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. DiCaprio will play Herman Webster Mudgett, alias H. H. Holmes, a serial killer who confessed to murdering 27 people — and may have killed as many as 200 — during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The devilishly charming Holmes had a sick and twisted m.o., part Norman Bates and part Hannibal Lecter: He built a hotel, later dubbed the “murder castle,” to lure his victims to their death, outfitting it with a gas chamber and a dissecting table. Tom Cruise had initially optioned Devil in the White City and planned to play the role of Holmes, but DiCaprio was so determined to play the part he developed his own rival Holmes project based on public-domain materials before ultimately acquiring the book’s film rights himself. Larson’s book interweaves Holmes’ story with that of Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the World’s Fair, but it’s probably safe to assume the film version will lend more weight to the lurid serial-killer story.

We’ve seen DiCaprio play a thief (Inception) and a con artist (Catch Me If You Can), but this is his first out-and-out murderer. It certainly seems like an intriguing idea — and I personally love the idea of a serial-killer tale set in that historical period (especially since we never got to see the long-discussed, now-presumably-dead big-screen adaptation of The Alienist.) But what do you think? Do you like the idea of DiCaprio playing a serial killer? Could this be his Silence of the Lambs? While we’re at it, who would you like to see direct the movie?

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  • Annie

    Awesome!! For those who have not read “Devil in the White City”. PLEASE go out tomorrow and buy it! It is a great read!!!!

    • Flip

      They did this guy on Supernatural a few years ago…it was really cool!

      • Joe

        Hands down supernatural’s my favorite show! Would have been hilarious to watch Tom Cruise play a psychopath though, Leo I’m sure can play this role to a T as he has that mysterious look about him.

      • Jackie

        Ha ha, FIRST thing I thought of when I read this! :) I remember watching that episode of Supernatural and wondering if this guy was real.

      • Dee

        I was just thinking the same thing! In fact, I just re-watched that episode of Supernatural for Halloween.

        If everything they said about the guy in the episode is true…it should be a very chilling movie!

      • Kelly

        They did? I don’t remember. What season?

    • MelindaB

      I loved this book, and recommend it to everyone. It’s a dense read, and hard to take at times, but it’s outstanding. I wish I could time-travel and go to the 1893 World’s Fair, avoiding serial killers, of course.

    • Dusty

      Agreed! It’s one of my favorites, & I would love to see DiCaprio paly a seriously demented character. I think he could be great in it.

    • mary

      some director suggestions:James Cameron of ‘Titanic’, Ridley Scott, Clint Eastwood. Sad to say who could be an awesome director of this plot/script but he could be poison right now and that’s Mel Gibson. Anyone with a family tree from Chicago should read this book!!

      • Ali

        One of my favorite books. Hope they do manage to tie in the World’s Fair… I’d love to see the White City in all it’s glory. (Probably CGI glory, but cool nonetheless.)

    • Alex

      Have you read Scarlet Mansion? Same story by Allan W. Eckert. I’m so excited about this movie coming out! Anyone heard a date set yet?

  • Andrew

    ****SPOILER ALERT****

    Technically, he played a murderer in Shutter Island as well. I think he can pull it off. He’s obviously passionate about the project. While we’re on the topic of Leo and Shutter Island (and many others films), is it possible that Martin Scorsese would attach himself as a director?

    • Maserda

      Yes, Leo played a murderer in denial. Leo’s role in Shutter Island is also a good play on a person with psychological issues, so going from a murder to a serial killer shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for him.

  • Ed

    Guillermo del torro!!!

    • KarlHall

      Oooh good call! Enclosed spaces + charming lead + catastrophic consequences = perfect GdT material!

    • Adam

      but this movie wont involve ghosts or demons

  • chris

    Could be a great film. But I’ll have to wait and see who directs this picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scorsese directs though.

    • Iliana

      Poor Tom Cruise. First Angelina has a hit withh a film (SALT)that was originally his, (while the film he chose to do instead- Knight And Day- flopped) and now Dicaprio “steals” this, in what surely will be another hit…

  • devoted

    David Fincher, all the way. I’d prefer an HBO miniseries of the book, though, so proper weight could be given to both stories (Burnham and Holmes) in the book.

    • Michael

      I always felt that this book would play better as a miniseries also so I’m concerned about how good the script will be. DiCaprio will definitely shine though.

    • Andrew M

      I think Fincher said he wants to stop doing serial killer movies for a while.

    • Big Walt

      I agree. As engaging as the murder aspect is I found the Burnham/achitecture/Olmstead/World’s Fair stuff much more interesting.

      • Ali

        I concur! A miniseries would be amazing. There was so much going on with the fair as well that was equally as fascinating.

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Hmmmm Leo can do it and do it well. He can play the charming guy while also playing the sadistic killer.

  • Gale

    This was an amazing book and I think it will translate well into a movie – especially if DiCaprio is involved.

  • Steve

    A truly unforgettable book – If half the power of the book transfers to the screen, it will be incredible. Leo could certainly pull it off.

  • Phil

    I don’t like horror movies but I have seen a documentary about H.H. Holmes and it was disturbing. The movie should be horrible but in a good way. That guy was messed up. I might actually see this movie even though I almost always stay away from this genre. I think Leo will pull it off he has a dark charismatic quality about him.

  • Miss Talk

    I don’t think he will ever win that Oscar by playing the lovable hero as usual. So I’m all for the change. Let’s go get’em Leo!

  • Amy

    I literally gasped out loud when I read the headline!! How cool! If you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favor and read it immediately! Obviously they won’t be able to capture a lot of what makes the book so wonderful (footnotes!) in the movie, but I’m glad they’re going to do it! It was such a fascinating story – I can’t wait to see how they depict the world’s fair!

    • G.R.

      “I literally gasped out loud when I read the headline!!”

      So did I — I just read the book a couple of months ago. :D I loved it and thought it would make for a great film.

      • ag

        Ditto!! One of my all time favorite books, one of my all time favorite actors. A match made in heaven. This just made my day!

  • Denny B

    I think it sounds like great film. Leo is one of the best actors of all time, from his playing the developmentally disabled brother of Gilbert Grape, to a teen junkie in the basketball diaries, to this. The only thing that would make it better is if it were directed by any one of the following: Jean Pierre Jeunet; Darren Aronofsky; Danny Boyle; Michael Bay; or Clint Eastwood.

    • Will

      did you honestly just ask for a film to be directed by Michael Bay? Are you retarted?

      • Tammy

        Thank you. You literally just took the words out of my mouth lol

      • Quel


      • Neko

        Although I don’t think it’s appropriate to use “retarded” in that sense, I agree. Michael Bay is a ridiculous suggestion. He could have directed if Tom Cruise was starring, that might put it into “so bad it’s funny” territory

    • Big Walt

      Thankfully they said retarted and not retarded.

  • keith

    Wow!! Great role he landed!! I love Leo and think it could be his golden statue. Been very impressed with him this last year. And I actually thought he was wonderful in Revolutionary Road, even though Kate got all the praise. Thrilled about this.

  • Duke

    For your consideration directors: David Fincher, Alfonso Cuaron, Kathryn Bigelow or Quentin Tarantino

    • Sig

      I read somewhere that Kathryn Bigelow was originally going to do this film adaptation before deciding to do The Hurt Locker. I just hope that whoever ends up directing will do justice to Daniel Burnham and the other architects of the fair. Eric Larsen does a wonderful job of blending their stories with H.H. Holmes’ lurid and fascinating crimes.

  • melissa

    Oh, my history teacher mentioned this book in class last year. Looks very interesting.

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