Three acting heavyweights – Michael Shannon, Benicio Del Toro and James Franco are set to star in The Iceman, a mob hitman thriller from B-grade director Ariel Vromen, who is stepping up to the big leagues here and in a big way!
Excitedly, as something of a rare treat – Shannon will be leading the picture as notorious hitman Richard Kulinski who it’s claimed killed over 100 people in his four decade career (40′s to 80′s) whilst working for the mob and keeping his true identity secret from his wife and kids.
Del Toro will play his boss Roy DeMeo and Franco is his mentor, Mr. Softee, backers Millennium Films and Bleiberg Entertainment announced Thursday. There’s no word just yet on who will play agent Dominick Polifrone, the man who goes undercover to try and take Kulinski down but they’ve certainly set a high casting precedent here.
They called Kulinski ‘The Iceman” not only because he would freeze the bodies of his victims and disguise the time of death thus confusing the cops but also for Kulinski’s cold detachment from life when he was working and his lack of remorse, compared to his duel, idyllic family life where neighbours had though of him as an average businessman. I guess like Tom Cruise’s contract killer Max says in Collateral; “All I am is taking out the garbage, killing bad people”.
The film has been brewing for a little while and there’s already a Michael Shannon test scene that you can watch online at the production company Sumatra Films’ website. Seriously watch it – I love the quiet mood and tension build of the scene. I think Franco’s part is filled here by Michael Wincott.
Vromen has made it known Shannon was his first and only choice for the part. Here’s a still from the test scenes, featuring Shannon with aging make-up and a killer mustache as the hitman Kulinski;
Vromen, a director I must admit I wasn’t aware of and whose B-grade work Danika and Simple Lies I can’t say I’ve ever heard of, has co-wrote the screenplay with Morgan Land and it’s based on the book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer by Anthony Bruno and on interview footage from the documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer by Jim Thebaut.
Here’s an excerpt of that doc;
There’s no word of when this one might film but I guess the difficult thing is matching up Shannon’s schedule with that of Franco and Del Toro who are constantly working. There is something of a ticking clock though on this one as author Phillip Carlo last year struck a deal to adapt his own novel about Kulinski, also titled The Ice Man, which had Mickey Rourke attached to the lead role. That one is written by American History X scribe David McKenna and carries a $15 million budget and supposedly was to shoot this Spring.
Interesting to see which one gets off the ground first, but this Shannon/Franco/Del Toro version seems to carry the mightier punch.