Johnny Depp will take on the role of the notorious Boston-based gangster Whitey Bulger in the upcoming film Black Mass, it was announced yesterday by the film's producers.

The project, which will be directed by Barry Levinson (who won an Oscar for directing Rain Man), will follow the life of one of America's most infamous organised crime barons and will be adapted from the book on Whitey's life, also called Black Mass, by Boston journalists Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. Whitey rose through the ranks of Boston's criminal underworld before becoming an informant for the FBI in a bid to get rid of a gangster rival. He was eventually arrested in 2011.

The film is being produced by Cross Creek and will be distributed by Universal Studios, the statement (from Cross Creek) also said, with filming for the project getting under way in May this year. Prior to this, Depp will next be seen in the upcoming Disney reboot of the family western The Lone Ranger, in which he will play the Ranger's (played by Armie Hammer) Native American sidekick Tonto. The Lone Ranger will be released 3 July 2013 in the US and 9 August in the UK.

Watch the trailer for The Lone Ranger: