US star Johnny Depp will play notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in the film "Black Mass", to be directed by Barry Levinson, the producers announced.

The film recounts the fate of the godfather of Boston's underworld who became an FBI informant to get rid of a gangster rival but was eventually arrested in 2011.

Adapted from a book by two Boston Globe journalists, "Black Mass" will be directed by Barry Levinson, who won an Oscar for best director in 1988 for "Rain Man".

Shooting will start in May and the film will be distributed by Universal Studios, said a statement from co-producer Cross Creek on Saturday.

Depp, 49, will also play in Disney's "The Lone Ranger" scheduled for release next summer.

In June, the actor announced his separation from long-term partner Vanessa Paradis with whom he has two children.