(Reuters) - Actor Mark Wahlberg wants to have a jailhouse chat with James “Whitey” Bulger and would be interested in pursuing a project about the purported Boston mob boss accused of 19 murders.
Boston-born Wahlberg’s expression of interest in Bulger’s story, however, is not sitting well with some family members of those Bulger is accused of having killed.
Wahlberg gave a phone interview to Boston radio station WAAF on Friday in which he revealed his interest in meeting Bulger.
“I actually got a call about coming to see Whitey, he wants me to come down and visit him,” Wahlberg said. “Maybe he’ll give me the exclusive rights to tell his story, because he knows we can do it better than anybody else.”
Bulger is in jail in Massachusetts following the June 2011 arrest of him and his longtime girlfriend in the Los Angeles beachside suburb of Santa Monica, after he spent over 15 years as a fugitive from authorities.
A WAAF radio host asked Wahlberg if he truly meant to meet with Bulger.
“Yeah, if we get the OK,” Wahlberg told the station. “I mean listen, first and foremost I really feel and my heart goes out to the victims of anybody who was hurt or anybody who lost a loved one in any of that stuff.”
The 40-year-old Wahlberg starred in the Oscar winning 2006 mobster film “The Departed.” He also is experienced in developing projects, having been an executive producer on a number of shows, including the gritty HBO cable television drama “Boardwalk Empire” about Atlantic City crime and politics.
An attorney for Bulger could not be reached for comment.
Steven Davis, whose sister Debra Davis is one of the 19 people prosecutors accuse Bulger of having a role in killing, told the Boston Herald he is concerned.
“They want to glamorize Whitey and those killers. They ruined my whole family,” Davis told the newspaper. “I have a lot of respect for Mark (Wahlberg). I would hope that he would reach out to us, too.”
Bulger, 82, is accused of leading the Boston-based Winter Hill Gang for years.
The one-time FBI informant pleaded not guilty in July to all charges against him, including 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.
Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Dan Burns