Appian Way and Double Features have teamed to acquire rights to Erik Larson's acclaimed non-fiction book
Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th century serial killer?
Sign me up and show me where the line starts!
The Oscar-nominated "Inception" star will play Dr. HH Holmes, America's first serial killer, in the big screen adaptation of Erik Larson's 2003 non-fiction book "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America," it was announced on Monday.
DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran have partnered with Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher to acquire film rights to the acclaimed book, which has sold 2.3 million copies worldwide while spending three years on The New York Times bestseller list.
Holmes is believed to have killed anywhere from 27-200 people in Chicago while the city played host to the World's Fair of 1893. While local authorities concerned themselves with more pressing matters, Holmes operated The World's Fair Hotel, a Bates Motel of sorts where the doctor lured young women in order to murder and mutilate them.
The role represents a welcome change of pace for DiCaprio, who has never really played a villain. The actor has long been interested in playing Holmes, having set up a rival project based on public domain materials after Tom Cruise pounced on Larson's book back in 2003.
When the rights recently became available again, Appian Way and Double Features acquired it from Paradigm. The producers plan to hire a writer and put together a package before shopping the project to studios.
That strategy recently worked for Shamberg and Sher on Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion," which boasts an A-list cast including Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard, plus Oscar nominees Matt Damon and Jude Law.
DiCaprio is currently preparing to play FBI director J. Edgar Hoover for director Clint Eastwood in Warner Bros.' "Hoover."