Benedict Cumberbatch has replaced Guy Pearce in "Black Mass," the Whitey Bulger biopic starring Johnny Depp.
Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver told Variety that Pearce had departed due to scheduling issues on "Black Mass," which has started shooting in Boston. "We were not able to make it work with Guy," he added.
The movie, directed by Scott Cooper, was shooting Wednesday in Cambridge.
Warner Bros. came on board in February to co-finance with Cross Creek and release "Black Mass" with Depp returning as the ruthless Boston mobster. He had dropped out last summer over money issues.
Producers are Cross Creek's Oliver and Tyler Thompson, John Lesher through his LeGrisbi banner and Depp's producing partner Christi Dembrowski at Infinitum Nihil.
Oliver said last year that he had been trying to make the Bulger movie since 2004.
The project is based on the book "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob," written by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. Mark Mallouk has written the script.
Bulger, the head of Boston's Winter Hill Gang, was captured in Santa Monica in 2011 after being on the lam for 16 years. Bulger fled authorities in Boston just before he was indicted in 1995 for federal racketeering. He was found guilty last year on 31 counts, covering 11 murders, and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus five years for his crimes.
Joel Edgerton is playing disgraced FBI agent John Connolly, who aided Bulger and was sentenced to 40 years in prison despite maintaining his innocence. Rory Cochrane, Juno Temple and Dakota Johnson also star.
Cumberbatch, Tye Sheridan and Will Poulter came on board recently to Iraq war drama "The Yellow Birds," which was unveiled at Cannes. The pic revolves around two young soldiers (Sheridan and Poulter) who are taken under the wing of an older sergeant (Cumberbatch) as they are deployed to Iraq.
Cumberbatch will next be seen in "The Imitation Game" for the Weinstein Company.
He's repped by UTA in the U.S. and John Grant at Conway Van Gelder Grant in the U.K.
News of Cumberbatch's casting on "Black Mass" was first reported by the Boston Globe.