January 2016 - Cover Story: Perlman on Fire
There is a meme circulating on Facebook that says “You can fairly judge a man based on what movie he knows Tim Curry from. As I prepare for Albuquerque Comic Con this year and one of their headlining guest, Ron Perlman, this meme can easily apply to him. In the business for almost 40 years, Perlman has created some of the most memorable characters in film and television history. The choice to play these particular character stems from Perlman’s childhood history. He once said, “I had a perception of myself that was, I was terribly overweight as a young kid, and it was sort of a low self-image...this experience is one thing that attracts me to playing these sorts of deformed people who are very endearing.”
Perlman has had a love of theater since high school and after his father saw him in a college production of Guys and Dolls, he encouraged Ron to pursue a career in acting. Since Lehman College didn’t have a Bachelors in Fine Arts, Perlman later attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theater Arts in 1973. Six years later, Ron’s career in television began sporting an afro as Dr. Bernie Marx on Ryan’s Hope. Landing that role came with the help of a famous star’s mother. “Christian Slater’s mom was casting that show, and I think I kind of knew her, so I came in and she had me read. I think she pushed for me to get the role, and that’s how I got it.”
The role led to his first feature film Quest for Fire as Amoukar. The opportunity came when he was performing in a production of “Tiebele and her Demon,” with F. Murray Abraham at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York. He was approached by director Jean-Jacques Annaud to star in the film about Neanderthal man and his quest for fire. Ron has said, “When the producer saw my forehead, he gave me the job on the spot.” The experience was a challenge - working with all different types of terrain and temperatures. Perlman said, “Whenever you work for this guy [Annaud’, whenever you do a film for him - you know you’re alive. There’s no question about that. Because life goes up a couple of notches in terms of excitement and stakes.”
Surprised the opportunity to play Amoukar did not lead to the big break Perlman expected, he turned to driving a limo in New York. But the job was not long-lived. Ron, after starring in small television roles, in 1986, landed the role of Vincent in Beauty and the Beast co-starring Linda Hamilton.
The next 20 years would cover a spectrum of roles in both film and television, sci-fi and drama, including One in The City of Lost Children, Norman Arbuthnot in the thought-provoking drama The Last Supper, and the fire-powered hero, Fiery Blaze, in the beloved comic series, The Tick. Voice Over work became a staple in Perlman’s career, lending his voice for such videos games and shows as Adventure Time, Batman the Bold and Brave, True Crime, and Justice League. In 2004, Ron was on the big screen with a franchise that would prove to be successful. Hellboy, a comic book character created by Mike Mignola at Dark Horse Comics, came alive on the big screen, making him one of Perlman’s most memorable characters. Still to this day, the rumors of a Hellboy 3 circulate the comic book and movie scene and Ron is on board to bring the big red guy back to the screen. “It’s definitely a part of the conversation that I have with Guillermo every time I see him. I, for one, would love to see how the Trilogy resolves itself. And I will fight for Hellboy 3 as long as my cold dead hands are not cold and dead.”
But the role that has definitely stretched his acting chops is the one of Clay Morrow on the critically acclaimed FX series Sons of Anarchy. The show created a loyal fan base lasting seven seasons. Perlman shared in an interview with Huffington Post that he would have liked to see Morrow go out in a more noble way. “What I would’ve loved to have seen is kind of ‘Oedipus at Colonus.’ He’s now realized that he’s married and fucked his mother and killed his father. That’s the Oedipus story. I would’ve hoped, because of the nobility that I saw in Clay from the get-go, that he had gone out that way. He didn’t, but that wasn’t my choice.”
Perlman is enjoying his new gig as Judge Pernell Harris on the Amazon original series Hand of God. In an interview with Digital Trends, Perlman talks about his character. “Judge Pernell Harris is the straw that stirs the drinks,” said Perlman. “Probably 75 percent of the streets in San Vicente are named after his grandfather or his great-grandfather, so he’s a man who’s used to wielding power. If you have money in San Vincente, it’s usually because he wants you to. If you have nothing, it’s usually because he wants you to. He’s a real old-school, tough-as-nails judge whose nickname was Judge Maximum.” Amazon has announced that Hand of God will be returning for season two, giving viewers a chance to see what Pernell has in store.
With the second installment of Pacific Rim and the upcoming film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them being slated for production in 2016, Ron will certainly be a busy man. But when it comes to Perlman, his performances will not be lackluster. He has proven what he brings to the table will keep audiences glued to their television sets and movie screens asking for more.
Ron Perlman will be a guest at this year's Albuquerque Comic Con on January 8th-10th at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Tickets are available at www.albuquerquecomiccon.com