Warner Bros. Lines Up Director James Gray For Boston Mafia Crime Drama White Devil
Another Boston crime film? This time, a contemporary look at the Chinese Mafia in Boston.
Is the film industry sick of Boston yet? Absolutely not is what I imagined everyone at Warner Bros is thinking. And they’re not slowing down either.
Deadline reported that Warner Bros. has James Gray lined up to write and direct a Boston-based crime drama (shocker) called White Devil. Before you give it a giant eye roll, this story is expected to be much different from the Boston crime dramas we’ve seen. White Devil is a “contemporary” drama centered around a white orphan who is adopted into a Chinese family, and eventually rises to the top of the Chinese Mafia in Boston.
Seems far-fetched, but Deadline suggests that there is an identical case centered around Asian organized crime happening in Boston right now. And with a little research comes this NPR story of John Willis, a white man from Dorchester who was adopted by a local Chinese family after his parents passed away as a teenager. They taught him to speak Chinese and Vietnamese, language skills that allowed him to communicate his way through Chinatown’s immigrant areas and navigate organized gangs.
Willis was sentenced in federal court last Thursday morning to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. Attorneys had labeled the case “White Devil” after Willis’ Chinese nickname “Bac Guai John”—”White Devil John.” FBI agent Scott O’Donnell told NPR that he’d never seen a criminal quite like John Willis before. Although Warner Bros. has not confirmed that White Devil is based on John Willis, this movie is bound to be just as interesting as the 93 Whitey Bulger biopics Hollywood has going.
James Gray is most known for smaller-scaled pictures, most recently The Immigrant starring Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Renner. He’s also very familiar with the crime genre as he worked on previous films We Own The Night and Little Odessa.