Take a normal, suburban family man. Mix in a secret life as a Mafia hitman. Sprinkle with a healthy dose of violence, murder and pathos – and you have the unbelievable true story of Richard Kuklinksi – “The Iceman.”
Brought to life on screen by Michael Shannon, he talked about what drew him to the role: “I think one of the things that is fascinating about Richard Kuklinski, the man I play in the film is that he was able to live this life as a hitman and keep it a secret from his family. Apparently they had no idea what he did for a living. I also thought it was interesting because, despite what he did for a living he managed to somehow have a heart, in terms of wanting to have a family and a home and I just found the dichotomy between the double life he was living to be very interesting.”
In 1986, Kuklinski was convicted of murdering a hundred men for various New York crime organisations.
It’s a fact which does not sit easily with Shannon. “Well, it’s uncomfortable for me. I mean, I don’t condone what he did and I would never have the capacity to do it myself. And you always want to be careful that you’re not sensationalising acts of violence, because unfortunately people take their cues from what they see in culture and media. But I felt like at the end of the day nobody would walk out of this film thinking that they wanted to switch places with him. I think he was a very unhappy person for most of his life and I don’t think he really enjoyed what he did very much.”
Winona Ryder plays The Iceman’s unsuspecting wife and Ray Liotta the Mafia boss who sees the potential in Kuklinksi.
The film hits Europe from June 3.