By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 20, 2011 at 10:50AM
Don't be confused. This isn't the film about the same guy -- mob hitman Richard Kulinski -- that Mickey Rourke was linked to earlier in the fall. Instead, this one is based off the biography by Anthony Bruno and it has attracted some strong names to the project.
Michael Shannon, Benicio Del Toro and James Franco are set to star in "The Iceman," co-written (with Morgan Land) and directed by Ariel Vromen. The material is interesting to be sure: Kulinski is one of the most notorious mob hitmen, claiming over 100 kills while keeping his true identity secret from his wife and kids. And while the pairing of Shannon/Del Toro/Franco sounds potentially great, with Shannon set for the lead part of Kulinski, Del Toro as mobster and Kulinski's boss Roy DeMeo and Franco as Mr. Softee, Kulinski's mentor assassin.
The trio of actors have been rumored for the film as early as last fall, but this is the first official confirmation. And while we have our reservations about Vromen ("Danika," "Rx") behind the camera, the team in front of it is about as first-rate as it gets. In fact, a taste of the film has already quietly hit the web as a test scene with Michael Shannon and can be found on production company Sumatra Films' website (Vromen's company). The actor is unrecognizable, looking a bit more aged and sporting a pretty mean mustache, but the scene definitely had our attention.
For Franco and Shannon, this continues their longstanding friendship and working relationship. Shannon appeared in Franco's short "Herbert White" and has a role in the apparently completed Hart Crane biopic "The Broken Tower."
No word yet on when this will shoot so we'll avoid how this may or may not affect the plethora of projects Franco is already attached to until we get some further details. But Franco, Del Toro and Shannon in a mob flick? Sure, we're there. Nu Image and Millennium are handling worldwide sales of the project and we presume there will be a lot of meetings happening up in Sundance for people looking to snare this enticing project.