Keanu Reeves will star in a TV adaptation of “The Devil in the White City,” the bestselling nonfiction thriller about convicted murderer Dr. H.H. Holmes and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.
Reeves will portray Daniel H. Burnham, an architect “trying to make his mark on history” with his designs for the fair, Hulu said in announcing the limited series Thursday.
The other central role, that of Holmes, has yet to be cast, the streaming service said.
Holmes was a notorious swindler who is believed to have murdered scores of people during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. He once managed a hotel at 63rd and Wallace in the Englewood neighborhood. His so-called "murder castle" was complete with trap doors, secret stairways, even a crematory.
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Erik Larson's novelistic-style account of the fair — formally called the World's Columbian Exposition — was published in 2003. The fair’s nickname was White City, stemming from the color of many of its building exteriors.
Various Hollywood players circled the book, and Leonardo DiCaprio acquired the rights in 2010, with the aim of starring in a big-screen version as Holmes. Martin Scorsese reportedly was set to direct.
Scorsese, DiCaprio and Reeves are among the series' producers. There was no immediate word of an on-screen role for DiCaprio in the Hulu project, and its release date was not announced.
Reeves has worked almost exclusively in films, including the “Matrix” and “John Wick” franchises.
Holmes, born Herman Webster Mudgett, was linked to and confessed to a number of murders. He was convicted and sentenced to death for only one and was executed in 1896.
In the spring of 2017, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, with the backing of the Mudgett family and the History Channel, dug up the grave of H.H. Holmes. His final resting place is at Holy Cross Cemetery, just outside Philadelphia.
When Holmes was arrested in Philadelphia, newspaper accounts at the time detailed he may have pulled off his greatest heist yet – by having someone else hanged and buried in his place.
That’s what brought UPenn’s Dr. Samantha Cox and her team to Holmes’ grave to answer once and for all: who is buried in the grave of Chicago’s ‘Devil’?
Archaeologists extracted a DNA sample from the inner ear of the skull to have it tested against Mudgett’s at King’s College in London.
“Basically the best result that they could give us is that the skeleton is a relation of the Mudgett family,” Cox said.
It wasn’t a clear-cut conclusion, so scientists compared Holmes’ dental records, which were published in a journal at the American Medical Association, to that of the skeleton.
“From a scientific standpoint to us, there’s no doubt (this is H.H. Holmes),” said Cox.