Originally Written for TheBlot Magazine October 13, 2014.
Whether it be on the big screen or the small, Ron Perlman is larger than any character he has ever portrayed. I found this out firsthand when catching up with the multi-talented artist at the signing of his memoir “Easy Street (The Hard Way)” at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York.
In the book, Perlman covers how he made what was once his dream into a reality he never could have imagined and gave some added insight as to what drives the man behind some of entertainment’s biggest characters.
After reading aloud a few pages from “Easy Street,” Perlman announced, “As you can tell, I’m an angry Jew,” which went over well with the hometown New York crowd that was anxiously awaiting his arrival. But for someone who proclaims to be so angry, he did go on to say how grateful he was for the way that his life had turned out.
“My life didn’t start getting really good till I turned 50,” he shared. “It took looking at the people I surrounded myself with and making hard decisions on who to keep around me and who to remove. After doing so, things just got better, not only with my career, but with my family as well. One of the biggest misconceptions is if you work in Hollywood, you must be rich, but I have two kids and not all actors are rich. I did what I had to in order to make it this far. For years, I was known as the guy would sit in a makeup chair for hours without complaining, so I got a lot of that kind of work, which I really didn’t mind as long as it was the right kind of makeup. Those were the roles that got me here, and I am grateful for every one of them.”
One would think that the 64-year-old entertainer would be at a point where his career would start to slow down, but Perlman is not one to sit idly and watch life pass him by.
“I feel as if some of the roles I have enjoyed the most and felt really good about, will never be seen,” he said. “When you are at the mercy of someone else, anything can happen. This is the reason why I started my production company and film fund earlier this year, because if someone isn’t going to show my fucking shit, I want to have something to say about it!”
As of now, his Wing and a Prayer Pictures will aim to finance and produce up to three independent films a year. I had the chance to ask Perlman that since he is now operating his own company, what the chances were for more collaboration between he and his longtime friend and professional counterpart Guillermo del Toro?
“Guillermo is not really a part of my company, but he and I will work together until we can’t go on,” Perlman replied. “I have a lot of respect for him on many levels.”
del Toro’s name would come up again when Perlman was asked by another fan in attendance about practical jokes on the set of his movies and who the biggest practical joker he ever met was. “You will never meet a more articulate 9 year old stuck in a man’s body, than Guillermo del Toro,” Perlman said. “The guy is non-stop till he yells, ‘Action!’, and then it’s all professionalism!”
Keeping with the subject of shenanigans, he was then asked if he remembered his first role as an actor. He thought for a minute before starting to mention a high-school play, but it wasn’t long before the inquiring man stopped him and said, “You don’t remember me do you?” to which Perlman replied, “I’m old — I cant remember to put socks on in the morning” and lifted his pant leg to show off his bare foot in his shoe. The man went on to say it was in “sixth grade, you just landed the lead role in the school play …” Perlman cut him off this time and said, “But I lost it because I was outside getting in trouble with you guys. I guess you could say I was fired from my first acting job when I was in the sixth grade!” The exchange was a genuine moment of the event, and it was one of the many times Perlman’s appreciativeness was exposed during the course of the evening.
After the questions came to an end, Perlman stayed until everyone who wanted to have their books signed by him did and took pictures with anyone who asked for one. Although the line was long and the event started to grow longer, there was no rush or desire to leave the people who would have waited any amount of time to see him. It was here my favorite two questions of the night were asked by none other than my daughter, Tyler. Her first question was, “What is your kid’s favorite character that you have played?” The actor looked stumped for a minute and said, “I really don’t know. No one ever asked me that before, and I’m not sure I have even ever asked them, but I will tonight! Was there some thing else?” Tyler then replied, “Yes, may I have a hug?” Without any hesitation, Perlman stopped the line to come out from behind the signing table to give Tyler a hug and pose for a picture with her.
It wasn’t so much the act as much as it was just his genuine appreciation for the fans that made Ron Perlman such a delight. As for my daughter and I, there are few things that could compare to being in the presence of the man who brought our favorite character to life. And as far as that character? Both Perlman and del Toro would love to do “Hellboy” again in an effort to complete the trilogy, but as of now they are at the mercy of the studios.
However, now that Wing and a Prayer Pictures is a reality, maybe a Kickstarter campaign to help get the rights to the famed character wouldn’t be so unrealistic, would it?