Evelyn 'Billie' Frechette
Movie fans in Wisconsin can now add several more actors to the cast of Public Enemies that's set to shoot in Chicago and multiple locations in Wisconsin this spring. As reported by Variety on Sunday night, French actress as Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Alvin Karpis, Homer Van Meter, and John "Red" Hamilton, all as members of the Dillinger gang. Along with Depp and Cotillard in their roles, they will be joining Christian Bale, who is set to play the pursuing FBI agent Melvin Purvis.
This cast is being assembled to tell the story of a crime wave that rolled across the Midwest in the midst of the Great Depression, focusing on the exploits and downfall of the Dillinger gang over late 1933 and the first half of 1934. That's the story told in the 2004 book Public Enemies by Bryan Burroughs, and that has been adapted into a major film of the same name by crime-epic auteur Michael Mann and several other collaborators in Hollywood. A student at UW-Madison in the early '60s and now an Academy Award-nominated director and producer, Mann has swiftly assembled the production over the last couple of months, and is in pre-production for a spring shoot.
Cotillard, who has an Oscar nomination this spring for her portrayal of Édith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, will be playing Evelyn Frechette, the daughter of a French father and Native American mother who grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeast Wisconsin. She moved to Chicago upon adulthood, and met John Dillinger less than a year the gangster was gunned down in a shootout with FBI agents at a Windy City movie theater. Known as "Billie," more details of her life can be found in a profile from the American Experience series on PBS. She died in Shawano in 1969.
Other major roles that have yet to be announced include Lester "Baby Face Nelson" Gillis, Dillinger confidant Louis Piquette, J. Edgar Hoover, and various other gangsters and g-men.
Public Enemies has been generating significant excitement over the last month as it has become increasingly clear that multiple scenes would be shot in Wisconsin. Studio representatives have scouted locations throughout the state, with the leading contenders for shoots being Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, and Manitowish Waters, the resort town north of Minoqua that's the site of an infamous Dillinger shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge. On Sunday, a transportation coordinator for the production was at the Overture Center casting period vehicles for possible use in the shoots. A specific list of dates and locations has yet to be announced, though, pending a deal on the specific package that will be offered to the film's studio Universal by the Wisconsin Commerce Department under the state's new film incentives system.