Born Rob Van Winkle, Vanilla Ice’s popularity peaked in the ’90s as a one-hit wonder with gravity-defying hair. His “Ice Ice Baby” became the first hip-hop single to top the charts, simultaneously pushing rap music into the mainstream while proving that white people have questionable taste.
Franco revealed that he’ll star as Van Winkle in a new interview with Insider. He suggested that the movie is “inching closer to preproduction,” and that he has been in contact with Vanilla Ice himself. “Rob is such a sweet and intelligent guy and he’s been super helpful in the process of getting all the details correct and making us privy to information the public doesn’t know,” Franco said. “Just talking to him I can’t help but think about the rabbit holes I’m going to go down to get ready for the role.”
News of the biographical film first broke in the trade publication Production Weekly in 2019, although the lead actor hadn’t been cast at the time. The plot is said to follow Van Winkle from his days as a high school dropout selling cars through his common sense-defying rise to the top.
As for the film’s approach to its subject, Franco said he’s taking a cue from his experience working on The Disaster Artist with older brother James. “With that movie, people expected us to make a broad comedy where we make fun of Tommy Wiseau, but the more real we played it, the funnier and heartfelt it was,” he explained. “That’s the tone we want for this one as well.”
Next week brings the release of Franco’s directorial debut, The Rental. It opens tomorrow, June 24th, and has been getting good reviews. Last year, he had a role in Michael Bay’s Netflix actioner 6 Underground.
Earlier this month, Vanilla Ice planned a Fourth of July concert for a 2,500-person audience, despite the coronavirus crisis. A few days later he cancelled, saying, “I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy!” He only sold 284 tickets before pulling the plug.
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