Leonardo DiCaprio will be playing a man with multiple personality disorder in The Crowded Room.
DiCaprio has been circling the role of Billy Milligan, the first man to use multiple personality disorder as a defense in a court of law, for almost 20 years. Milligan, who reportedly had 24 personalities, was put on trial in the ’70s after being accused of raping three women and committing robbery. He was acquitted after his lawyers claimed the alternate personalities committed the crimes without his knowledge. DiCaprio will produce the film as well, which is being adapted from a nonfiction book.
The movie will reportedly be adapted from the Daniel Keyes’ nonfiction book “The Minds of Billy Milligan.” Keyes tells the story of Milligan, a man who went on trial in the ’70s for three rapes. He was the first person to successfully use multiple personality disorder as a defense.
In addition to starring, DiCaprio will serve as a producer alongside Jennifer Davisson and Alexandra Milchan. Crowded Room further bolsters the relationship between DiCaprio and New Regency, who are currently in production together on The Revenant, director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow-up to New Regency and Fox Searchlight’s Oscar-winning Birdman.
The Crowded Room has been set up at New Regency for years, but never got off the ground (the project has been dormant for a decade). Smilovic’s hire gives renewed life to the adaptation of Daniel Keyes’ nonfiction tome about Milligan, who had 24 personalities. DiCaprio has been interested in playing him stretching back to 1997.
Published in 1981, Keyes’ book chronicles Milligan’s story, including his court trial in the late 1970s in Ohio after being charged with robbery and raping three women on the Ohio State University campus.
In the preparation of his defense, Milligan — who died in December 2014 — was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. Pleading insanity, he and his lawyers contended that two of his alternate personalities committed the crimes without his knowledge. He was the first to use this defense, and the first to be acquitted for this reason.