Mickey Rourke seems to have a penchant for sinking his teeth into steely, reserved characters and his latest role will certainly leave him with plenty to chew on. According to Variety, the grizzled performer is attached to star in The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer – an adaptation of Phillip Carlo’s acclaimed book.
Matty Beckerman announced the project and Rourke’s involvement at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. He also revealed that his production company, Natural Selection, will finance the film and that David McKenna (Blow, American History X) has been hired to pen the script.
Carlo’s New York Times bestseller recounts the real life story of mafia hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, and the bulk of the text is derived from the prolific killer’s own words. In addition to the book, Kuklinski was the subject of two memorable HBO documentaries and has become notorious for his brutal crimes and the efficiency with which he carried them out.
As far as Beckerman is concerned, this is a perfect match of actor, screenwriter, and source material:
“This is a role Mickey Rourke was born to play and, as a huge fan of David McKenna’s work, I am thrilled to have him on board.”
Rourke’s resurgence is in full force – The Expendables has been a bona fide hit at the box office this summer and the first bits of footage from Passion Play suggest a quirky and intriguing film. His last outing as a hit man may not have gone so well (an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Killshot deservedly slipped under the radar), but it sounds like he’s in better hands with The Ice Man.
The role of Kuklinski is a natural fit for Rourke, as anyone who has seen the HBO documentaries or read Carlo’s book can attest. He’s certainly a better choice than Channing Tatum – who Lorenzo di Bonaventura wanted for the lead role back when he owned the rights.
The (pardon the pun) chilling details of Kuklinski’s life are as fascinating as they are horrifying and the reserved demeanor in which he details them is incredibly unnerving. One of the more disturbing aspects of his story is that at the height of his involvement with the mob, Kuklinski was a devoted husband and father to two children who believed he was a successful businessman.
The phrase “truth is stranger than fiction” comes to mind, and that ties into my only reservation with Carlo’s book: it takes everything Kuklinski says at face value.
A great deal of his tale is supported by actual evidence, but there’s also quite a bit that’s unsubstantiated – such as his grandiose claims of being involved with the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. It will be interesting to see how many of those elements (if any) are worked into McKenna’s script.
Regardless, the film has an enormous amount of potential and I can’t wait to see Rourke’s interpretation of Kuklinski in The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer.