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Michael Shannon, Benicio del Toro, and James Franco will star in Ariel Vromen's The Iceman

10.01.2010

There are currently two competing biopics in the works based around Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski, infamous hitman of the Gambino crime family said to have murdered hundreds between the years of 1948 and 1986. The first film, THE ICE MAN, is based on author Philip Carlo's book The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, which will star Mickey Rourke as Kuklinski (first rumored last September and then confirmed nearly a year later).

The second biopic, THE ICEMAN, comes from Israeli filmmaker Ariel Vromen (DANIKA, RX) and is based on a different book - The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer by author Anthony Bruno. And it's this film that looks to have gained the better hand of the two, as it just landed the talents of Michael Shannon ("Boardwalk Empire", REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), Benicio del Toro (CHE, 21 GRAMS), and James Franco (RISE OF THE APES, 127 HOURS).

It's not known who of these three (if any of them) will portray Kuklinski. The news comes from Production Weekly's Twitter feed, which of course doesn't provide great detail...

Michael Shannon, Benicio Del Toro, & James Franco to star in Ariel Vroman's "The Iceman", the epic true story of hitman Richard Kuklinski.

...but it does give us an opportunity to speculate. Franco? Awesome as he is, he doesn't have the look or demeanor (i.e. he's too pretty) to be right for the part of Kuklinski. Del Toro? He is, to me, one of the most unsettling, intense, and unpredictable actors in the business, always capable of making me uneasy because you just never know how he's going to play a scene or how far he's going to take it. I can certainly see him as Kuklinski. And then there's Michael Shannon, an actor that seems relatively harmless but that always comes at roles with this sort of unnerving steeliness that can erupt, much like Del Toro, in unpredictable ways. I could perhaps see him in this role too (he's currently doing good work on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire").

Here's a rundown of Anthony Bruno's book (via Amazon): At home Richard Kuklinski was a dedicated suburban family man. On the street he was the Iceman, a professional hit man and lethal scam artist, a man so heartless he kept one of his victims frozen for over two years to disguise the time of death. His personal body count was over 100, but the police didnít have a clue. The Iceman exposes Kuklinskiís murderous double life.
Extra Tidbit: So what are you, Team Iceman or Team Ice Man?

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