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Leonardo DiCaprio set for serial killer in DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY with Graham Moore scripting

Leonardo DiCaprio is set to play the role of the notorious serial killer, Dr. HH Holmes. Deadline reports that Warner Bros has acquired The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America, the non-fiction book by Erik Larson. Graham Moore has been tapped to pen the adaptation that tells the story of Holmes’ grisly murders during the Worlds Fair of 1893 in Chicago. Graham rose to fame after his 2011 Black List script for The Imitation Game was bought by Warner Bros for a 7-figure spec deal.

This deal has been in the works since last year, when DiCaprio’s Appian Way first bought the project. WB just acquired the project and will produce along with Appian. The film will tell the story of Holmes, “the 19th Century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. A cunning charmer, Holmes preyed on anywhere from 27 to 200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World’s Fair of 1893. Holmes constructed The World’s Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a 'murder castle,' a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes would murder his victims and strip their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study.”

I have read the book that that this will be based on and watched the documentary and have been intrigued by the story. Moore is originally from Chicago and stated that he is “obsessed with Devil in the White City for a decade. My high school was 50 yard away from where the Chicago World’s Fair was held, and I played soccer on a field near where Holmes murdered about 200 people. It was a truly horrible crime, but it’s a very Chicago story. Though I moved to LA, I think of myself as fundamentally Mid-Western, and in a weird way, this is a dark and twisted tribute to my hometown.”

Moore went on to talk about how the stories of Turing and Holmes have a similar appeal. He stated:

“Turing was a great genius and in a twisted evil way, so was Holmes. Turing was this British mathematician who on the outside wasn’t likeable at all, who was difficult and a bit rude, but who was a great human being inside. Holmes was a most likable guy who inwardly was a tremendous monster. I’m drawn to stories where the role of villain and hero get murky and I thought it would be different to tell the Holmes story from his perspective, and put a little humanity into him. That’s not easy because it’s like trying to care for a caricature and you read the book and every time he does something horrible, you read 10 pages further and he’s done something even worse. In my head, the most unsettling part of Holmes isn’t what he did, but in what ways we notice bits of him that exist inside us and don’t make us feel very good. I credit Warner Bros with taking a risk on me with both of these projects. It has been a surreal six months for me.”

I highly recommend you read the book and watch the documentary on Netflix. This is likely to be the darkest DiCaprio film to date. I am interested in seeing him transform himself into the serial killer that had charm. I submit David Fincher as a wonderful director for this film, although that is unlikely since his dance card is a bit full with so many other projects.

What are your thoughts on this news? Are you looking forward to seeing this movie?

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