Lots of info is swirling around regarding legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris’s second dramatic work. Morris is intent on making a biopic of a man named Robert Nelson, who was a television repairman who joined a group of cryogenic enthusiasts in the late 60s, took over their makeshift operation, and took it upon himself to start freezing people post death. Nelson’s story has already been told in his own memoirs “We Froze the First Man,” and in a segment on NPR’s This American Life entitled “You’re Cold as Ice.” Morris will be filming a screenplay by Stranger than Fiction’s Zach Helm that takes material from both.
First, The Washington Post has confirmed with Morris that he has cast Paul Rudd in the lead role of Bob Nelson. While there is a lot of dark humor to be had in the prospect of an in over your head TV repair man trying to run a cryogenics operation, this story goes some dramatic places as well, so this will be an interesting role to see Rudd take. He started his career doing more dramatic stuff, but has recently been known for doing mostly straight comedy. This could be a good chance to see what kind of chops Rudd is working with. A second bit of news on the project is that The New York Observer is reporting This American Life creator and host Ira Glass will be collaborating with Morris on the film in some capacity.
As a fan of Rudd, and as a fan of This American Life, I’m really looking forward to this project. The radio piece that Glass and company produced on Bob Nelson is probably the best thing I’ve ever heard on the radio. It’s a story with twists and turns that goes places you would never expect and drums up all sorts of conflicting emotions. If Helm’s script can mimic the storytelling method used in Glass’s radio work in any way, then this should be a real rollercoaster of a film. And if Glass is involved with the production himself, then chances are they’ll be able to pull it off. If you want to listen to it, the This American Life episode including the Nelson story can be streamed here.