It's a hundred times better if you imagine him as a gritty Hunter S. Thompson reboot.
In the film, Bulger masquerades as an FBI informant, exploiting the system for his own selfish gains. It's a pretty standard story, but Depp has gotten a lot of Oscar buzz, probably because people are just happy to see him playing a ridiculous character who isn't wearing goth makeup.
The Real Story:
While imprisoned in the 1950s, Whitey Bulger was in MKUltra, the CIA's top-secret, illegal mind-control program. Bulger was one of several inmates who volunteered for the program with the incentive of commuted sentences (Bulger and the other test subjects were told the experiments were attempting to find a cure for schizophrenia).
Boston Police Department
The hat refused to sign up, and is still in prison today.
For one reason or another, part of the government's project concerned administering large quantities of LSD to their test subjects. Bulger reacted badly to the acid, which even went so far as to give him suicidal thoughts.
Not only does this insane episode possibly explain why Bulger is so cartoonishly eccentric, it also kind of explains why he became a fucking underworld boogeyman. Think about it. If you went to prison, were promised less jail time for helping eradicate a serious illness, then secretly had your brain melted with acid, you would leave with a somewhat disenchanted view of the government and the criminal justice system. The movie only briefly mentions that Bulger was given LSD in prison.
Of course, showing Bulger in his youth would have meant fewer bald caps and false teeth, so it's possible that Depp rejected the idea outright.
The Walk -- After Crossing The Twin Towers, Philippe Petit Bailed On His Friends To Fuck A Groupie
The Walk tells the true story of how French high-wire artist Philippe Petit broke into the World Trade Center and walked on a wire between the twin towers back in the 1970s. While the movie wasn't a huge hit, its recreation of the towers will likely be up for some awards -- especially if the Academy finally creates a special category for Special Achievement in Making the Audience Scream Vertigo Puke Into Their Laps.
Three layout editors had to take sick days after trying to make this into a GIF.
The Real Story:
Petit's story was already covered in the Oscar-winning documentary Man On Wire, which includes some more salient details left out of The Walk. For example, The Walk ends with Philippe being released from jail and going to dinner with his friends, who all put themselves at considerable risk to help him pull off his daring stunt. Then his girlfriend leaves New York, telling him: "You accomplished your dream, now it's time for me to find mine."
Yeah, none of that shit happened. As Petit himself explains in the documentary, as soon as he got out of jail, a random girl in the gathered crowd grabbed him, saying that she wanted to be the first person to celebrate with him. He then found himself on a waterbed in a New York loft engaging in "pleasure of the flesh," which is a phrase here meaning "nailing a groupie."
Neal Boenzi/The New York Times
"When your balls are big enough for you to tightrope-walk skyscrapers, you need to relax them now and then."
All those friends who had broken the law for him? Petit called and told them he was tied up giving interviews, and that he wouldn't be able to join them for their celebratory dinner. You may recognize this as the type of lie a terrible father tells his child to explain why he missed their birthday.
The Walk ends with a caption which tells us that Petit's friends returned to France, which is a somewhat gentle way of saying that they were fucking deported. Petit himself received a slap on the wrist and lives in New York to this day, where he presumably teaches future generations how to immediately destroy all their personal relationships in the wake of achieving a life goal.
J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop culture nostalgia podcast Rewatchability which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.
It turns out that Hollywood is full of "true stories" loaded with bullshit, but you already knew that, so go ahead and get to reading 6 Horrifying Endings That 'True Story' Movies Left Out and 6 Movies Based On A True Story That Left Out Important Stuff.
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