On Monday evening, Grey Goose hosted a special New York screening of Millennium Entertainment’s “The Iceman” at Clearview Cinemas. The highly anticipated crime drama that chronicles the life of notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski, stars Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and James Franco. From the film: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder (in a black tea-length Zac Posen frock paired with Brian Atwood pumps), Ray Liotta, James Franco (in Gucci), Robert Davi, Danny Abeckaser (in a Versace suit from Century 21), Erin Cummings, Jay Giannone, and director Ariel Vromen were all in attendance and the party continued at Soho House New York, where guests enjoyed tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, and Grey Goose signature cocktails, including the Le Fizz and aptly-named Cherry Noir Contract and Le Citron White Snow.
Film Synopsis: Inspired by actual events, “The Iceman” follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men. Appearing to be living the American dream as a devoted husband and father; in reality Kuklinski was a ruthless killer-for-hire. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.
tapeunit.com sat down with one of the film’s stars Danny Abeckaser aka Danny A. Check out what he had to say about working on the project:
Q: How did you get involved with “The Iceman”?
I’m friends with the director, Ariel Vromen, and he’s been talking to me about it for years – the last five years. And he saw a movie I did, “Holy Rollers,” and he was like, “I think you’d be right to this role, Dino.” In the beginning the role was really, really small, but once he started seeing my work and we got to know each other a little bit better, the role grew and grew, and honestly because you know with independent films I didn’t know if this was actually going to happen. I was hoping it was going to happen because I love Ariel and I love the story and then when he finally told me we’re going to make it I was just ecstatic. But that’s how I got involved in the whole story.
Q: Tell us about your character.
Well I played Dino Lapron and Dino is best friends with Michael Shannon’s character, Richard Kuklinski — the “Iceman.” And my character just comes in and out of his life, but has been best friends with him for years. So I think Dino is the only guy that actually knows him and brings out his human side because obviously we all know that he’s a contract killer. I mean, I’m not hiding anything. But it’s interesting because, you know, I feel like Dino is the only who actually gets to see one side of him and he only basically socializes with his family in this case and you don’t see him with anyone else except Dino. So I brought a lot of heart to his character and to the story from what I understand. And just working with Mike Shannon was just incredible.
Q: Michael Shannon gave an incredible performance. Tell us about working with him?
Oh my gosh, he’s incredible. Well, you know, working with great actors makes you, you know, look good. I like to think, you know, that great actors give you great performances and give the other actors something to work with. I mean, he’s so good. All I did was just listen to everything he said and just respond to it to be honest with you. But as the movie progresses and we shot different scenes, he obviously evolves into like this other person and it was intense. But he’s so good and so giving and complimenting me and he’s always telling me, “Oh you’re doing a great job on this.” And you know, for me, I needed that. It’s still fairly new to me, so I needed that and he was always there to say it, so it’s great.
Q: Was there a highlight from set, while filming “Iceman”?
I was just happy being there, you know. We were shooting in the Shreveport, Louisiana and I didn’t know anyone there and that was hard, but just being onset and seeing everyone do their work and so everybody was just elevated in their performances. I was just excited to be on it. Everyday was basically a blessing.
Q: What did you love about the script?
Well, I’m originally from Brooklyn. I know the story. I’ve watched “The Iceman Confessions” on HBO. And I just know that world, just from that because I’m big into watching the whole bio stuff on YouTube, and I was just fascinated. Well you know, my favorite movies are like Goodfellas and Godfather and stuff so for me it was just ideal.
Q: What do you admire about Ariel the director?
Honestly he gave me so many good tips and just like guided me like for Dino’s role it was like, “You got to take this role and basically base it on this relationship you have with someone in my personal life.” Where we’re friends, but the person that I’m friends with is in a high place and very successful and you know, you treat him just like any other friend, but you have that respect level where you don’t cross boundaries. That was honestly the best advice you can possibly get because that’s just the way I kind of took it. I mean, I spoke to Richard Kuklinski – Michael Shannon’s character – just like I would speak to anyone else, but I always kept my back and just didn’t want to say anything and it kind of comes off. And just by doing that I felt like that was what I needed to know going in and from there I just felt like just that one point that he gave me changed everything.
Q: Since it is a true story, what surprised you most about it?
I just couldn’t believe that he got away with it for so long you know, and the fact that, from what I understand, his wife and kids, no one had any idea. And to me it was just, I mean, he’s out killing people and you don’t know anything and I was just fascinated and shocked to hear that it took 20-something years till people picked up on it.
Q: How did you get your start in entertainment?
Well, I produced and starred in the movie called “Holy Rollers.” I decided I want to produce movies, you know, stories that I want to tell, things that I want to say, and the first one was “Holy Rollers.” And I came in as a producer-actor in trying to tell that story and that’s basically how I got into where I am right now with this movie. But you know, my whole life I wanted to do it. When I was young I went on auditions, I did a music video, I did small little things. I put that on the side for a little bit went on I did this whole nightlife business and I just always wanted to get back into it and see what happens. The reason I choose this subjects is because I’ve always felt that if I’m going to do these movies, I want to make movies that I want to be in and movies that I think people would relate to. So that’s where all that came about.
Q: What has been the highlight of being an actor?
Just the fact that I’m actually getting to act…This is so difficult, you know going to an audition and getting casted is such a process and I’m just happy I’m getting to work and doing things, you know. I’m about to start my next movie that I’m also producing called The Life and just to get here at this whole process. So we start shooting in July. It’s so difficult. That’s what I love about it, just to actually be able to make it, and not just talk about it.
Q: Can you tell us about your future project “The Life”?
The Life I co-wrote it with Ryan O’Nan and Ryan Vallen and it’s loosely based on my experiences in the nightlife business and takes you on a journey of this guy that gets caught up in that world, but because of my experiences in my past, I’m able to take you deep inside the world and how it really works and then it evolves into what’s been going on in my life, into Vegas and…It’s a great script. I co-wrote it, I’m producing it, I’m going to act in it. I’m not going to lead because the lead has to be younger. But it’s not about that. You know, I think I’m right for the role that I want to play. It’s just the way acting is. I mean, you can’t overplay something or try to force something. I think that the Johnny D character has to be young and new.
Q: Since you are a nightlife figure, do you have any reflections on the state of New York nightlife today?
I have Avenue and I own a piece of Marquee and I have a place called The Spot at the Trump Soho. I mean, there’s no place like New York and the nightlife is always going to be great here. I just think there’s so many new clubs and there’s so many promoters and people are pulling you. I remember when I first started every night, all the best people went to one place and it was just like, that’s different. You know, there’s bottle service now which like, you know, people can buy their way in. Well that’s a little different, but it’s still the best place in the world for me to go out and I love it. I mean, I still go out as much as I can, not as much as I like to but I still do a little bit.
“The Iceman” opens on May 3, 2013.