Cumberbatch heads into Black Mass
Benedict Cumberbatch has taken Guy Pearce's role in the crime drama, Black Mass, according to reports.
The Sherlock star is to play Billy Bulger, a Massachusetts State Senator and the law-abiding brother of Boston murderer and mobster Whitey Bulger, portrayed by Johnny Depp.
Cross Creek Pictures president Brian Oliver confirmed to Variety that the Australian star decided to leave due to scheduling issues, saying: "We were not able to make it work with Guy."
Crazy Heart and Out Of The Furnace filmmaker Scott Cooper will direct the Bulger biopic, which had been titled Black Mass and has started shooting in Boston.
Joel Edgerton has been cast as disgraced FBI agent John Connolly, who helped the criminal figure and was sentenced to 40 years in prison despite maintaining his innocence.
Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons will portray Bulger's long-time partner in crime, Kevin Weeks, while Sienna Miller will play his lover, Catherine Greig. Dakota Johnson has been cast as Bulger's former girlfriend and mother of his only child.
The film, which has been written by Mark Mallouk, is based on Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill's book Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob.
It will chronicle the life of the Boston crime kingpin-turned-fugitive Bulger, who rose to the top of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List after he went on the run for a decade. He was later captured in California in 2011 and is serving time in Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder.
Benedict, who has signed up for Iraq war drama The Yellow Birds alongside Will Poulter and Tye Sheridan, will next be seen as codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. The 37-year-old will also portray Hamlet on the London stage in 2015.