Casting update on the Vanessa del Rio biopic we’ve been tracking since the initial announcement in 2013…
The movie will chronicle the porn star’s career set against the backdrop of NYC’s then gritty organized crime-controlled Times Square, during the tumultuous 1970s & 1980s.
Produced by Datari Turner, and to be directed by Thomas Mignone, best known for his previous feature film “On The Doll,” as well as several award-winning music videos for bands like Slipknot, Mudvayne, System Of A Down, and Sepultura, the del Rio production will star Zulay Henao in the title role.
– RZA will portray a character who works the doors at the burlesque club where Vanessa dances. After hours, he secretly uses the club’s audio gear to pursue his true passion of music, laying down tracks and rhymes in what was then a fledgling form of music called rap.
– De Matteo will play the savvy madame who discovers the young, rebellious Vanessa on the streets of Times Square. Her character strikes a delicate balance between a tough-as-nails club owner and someone who sympathizes with, and tries to help the club’s adult performers living difficult, erratic lives.
The film will go beyond just del Rio’s life as a porn-star (although I’m sure there are lots of interesting stories there to tell), as it looks to provide a snapshot of New York City during those years in which she was at the top of her career. Central to the film’s story line are the federal government’s determined efforts to force organized crime businesses out of New York City and ultimately to the San Fernando Valley, while films, tv shows, and song lyrics are suddenly being censored, and politicians and adult-industry mavericks battle in the courts and on the streets.
Producer Datari Turner, who recently inked a first-look deal with Lionsgate, is also an Executive Producer on “Ten Thousand Saints,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, staring Ethan Hawke, Emil Hircsh and Hailee Steinfield – a 4th Datari Turner-produced film in 5 years, with Sundance cred; the other 3 being “Another Happy Day,” “LUV,” and “Salvation Boulevard.”
Henao, RZA and Turner are repped at CAA. De Matteo is repped by The Gersh Agency. Manning is repped by APA.
Casting Directors are Annie McCarthy and Freddy Luis.