Alan Goldsberry and Billy Milligan, 1984
Alan Goldsberry (left) and Billy Milligan, 1984 (photo:

Billy Milligan Subject Of Upcoming Hollywood Film

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The life–or lives–of an infamous Ohio man may be coming to a screen near you.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, actor Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to portray Billy Milligan, the first person to use multiple personality disorder as a legal defense.

The film, titled The Crowded Room, is based on Daniel Keyes’ award-winning 1981 book, The Minds of Billy Milligan, an account of Milligan’s court trial in the late 1970s.

Milligan was charged with raping three women on the Ohio State University campus in 1977. He was declared “not guilty by reason of insanity” and transferred to the Athens State Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having two dozen personalities.

It was during his stay in Athens that Milligan met local lawyer Alan Goldsberry, who would later serve as Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge.

“When I first became his attorney, my role was to represent him in negotiations with Daniel Keyes–Professor Keyes at Ohio University–in the development of the book that was issued that they co-authored,” Goldsberry told WOSU in 2014. Goldsberry said he eventually withdrew as Milligan’s attorney because Milligan failed to heed his legal advice.

An excerpt of the book is included on the author’s official site:

Out of control of his own actions, Billy Milligan was a man tormented by twenty-four distinct personalities battling for supremacy over his body — a battle that culminated when he awoke in jail, arrested for the kidnap and rape of three women.

In a landmark trial, Billy was acquitted of his crimes by reason of insanity caused by multiple personality — the first such decision in history — bringing to public light the most remarkable and harrowing case of multiple personality ever recorded.

Twenty-four people live inside Billy Milligan.

Philip, a petty criminal; Kevin, who dealt drugs and masterminded a drugstore robbery; April, whose only ambition was to kill Billy’s stepfather; Adalana, the shy, lonely, affection-starved lesbian who “used” Billy’s body in the rapes that led to his arrest; David, the eight-year-old “keeper of pain”; Arthur, the Englishman; Ragen, the “keeper of Rage” who possessed incredible strength; Allen, the con man; Tommy, the escape-artist, and all of the others, including men, women, several children, both boys and girls, and the Teacher, the only one who can put them all together.

Each of these “people” play a distinct role in this often shocking true story.

The Minds of Billy Milligan, which has been published in 14 languages, received the Kurd Lasswitz Award in 1986 and the Seiun Award in 1993. Keyes also turned the book into a play, which was first performed at the Ohio University Playwright Festival in 1983.

After being released in 1988, Milligan lived a quiet life in California. He returned to Columbus, Ohio, five years ago, where he died in December 2014 at the age of 59.

At this time, the movie is still in the development stage, with no details on who will direct or co-star, or where it will be filmed.