November 1, 2010


It seems like Leonardo DiCaprio has played every type of role possible in his illustrious career thus far, but there’s one more he’d like to tack off of his list: serial killer. He is set to produce and star in an adaptation of the 2003 non-fiction book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by author Erik Larson. Deadline reports that DiCaprio acquired the rights through his Appian Way production company, in partnership with Double Features.

The book is based upon serial killer Dr. HH Holmes, who is said to have murdered anywhere between 27-200 people in Chicago during the time of the World’s Fair of 1893.  He used the fair to lure people into his World’s Fair Hotel, which was later deemed the “murder castle”, wherein he would murder his victims and disassemble their bodies to sell for scientific study.  The hotel included a gas chamber and a crematorium.  For a bit more on the flick, and to read the synopsis of the book, hit the jump.

devil_in_the_white_city_book_cover_erik_larsonDiCaprio has apparently been interested in this project for a while. Tom Cruise optioned the book back in 2003, intending to take on the lead role, and DiCaprio set up a rival project with plans to use the public domain rights to Holmes’ story.  Evidently, the Cruise film never materialized and DiCaprio jumped at the chance to snatch up the rights himself.  Currently, no writer or director is attached to the project, so it may take a while to come to fruition. But DiCaprio and the producers are said to be looking to hire someone to write the screenplay while they put together a package that they can shop around to studios in order to get the project financed.  Next up for DiCaprio is the titular role in Clint Eastwood’s Hoover biopic.  The actor is also under consideration to star in The Great Gastby.

A description of the book via Amazon:

Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city’s finest moment, the World’s Fair of 1893. Larson’s breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it.

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