Leonardo DiCaprio set to star as a serial killer in 'The Devil in the White City'

Talk about a killer role: Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as one of the most notorious murderers in U.S. history in a big-screen adaptation of Erik Larson’s 2003 nonfiction bestseller The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. DiCaprio will play Herman Webster Mudgett, alias H. H. Holmes, a serial killer who confessed to murdering 27 people — and may have killed as many as 200 — during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The devilishly charming Holmes had a sick and twisted m.o., part Norman Bates and part Hannibal Lecter: He built a hotel, later dubbed the “murder castle,” to lure his victims to their death, outfitting it with a gas chamber and a dissecting table. Tom Cruise had initially optioned Devil in the White City and planned to play the role of Holmes, but DiCaprio was so determined to play the part he developed his own rival Holmes project based on public-domain materials before ultimately acquiring the book’s film rights himself. Larson’s book interweaves Holmes’ story with that of Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the World’s Fair, but it’s probably safe to assume the film version will lend more weight to the lurid serial-killer story.

We’ve seen DiCaprio play a thief (Inception) and a con artist (Catch Me If You Can), but this is his first out-and-out murderer. It certainly seems like an intriguing idea — and I personally love the idea of a serial-killer tale set in that historical period (especially since we never got to see the long-discussed, now-presumably-dead big-screen adaptation of The Alienist.) But what do you think? Do you like the idea of DiCaprio playing a serial killer? Could this be his Silence of the Lambs? While we’re at it, who would you like to see direct the movie?

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