There are a few character actors working in the genre that elicits such excitement whenever they appear on the big screen as the great Ron Perlman. Whether it’s seeing his massive cranium looking all hardcore or that booming voice of his ring out in a manly gruff, every time I see him on the big (or small) screen, I get a big dopey smile on my face. Plus, the guy just seems cool as f*ck. With PACIFIC RIM coming out in just a few weeks (and SONS OF ANARCHY returning in the fall), I’d say we’re well overdue in taking a closer look at Perlman’s career. Let’s do this!
My first real memories of Perlman have to be when he was Beast alongside Linda Hamilton’s Beauty in the epic TV series BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I literally haven’t seen this show in 25 years or more, so it could be complete garbage, but I remember liking it well enough… plus, it was one of those roles Perlman was born to play (at least, on a physical level). And while his acting career took off in the movies, the dude has stuck to appearing on TV series throughout his career, with tons of voice work in animated series from the ANIMANIACS to BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, with even a few gigs as voices in video games throughout the years. And now with the incredibly watchable SONS OF ANARCHY, it looks like this trend is going to continue from now into the future. Talk about a guy who knows how to keep busy!
On the movie side, the dude’s done great things with SLEEPWALKERS, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, DESPERATION, I SELL THE DEAD, and last year’s epic, DRIVE as a hardcore Mafioso who knows how to break a leg or two (all while sporting a polyester workout suite). He excels in the sword and sorcery genre, rocking out roles in OUTLANDER, SEASON OF THE WITCH, and CONAN THE BARBARIAN (the remake). And while those line-in mostly with just OK, I couldn’t say any of them were truly awful. This leaves us with the area of film where Perlman truly shines: in collaboration with director Guillermo del Toro. He blew us away with CRONOS, he entertained us in BLADE 2, but where he really came into his own was in the other role Perlman was born to play: HELLBOY. Yup, HELLBOY and HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY are both knock-out movies, thus driving home that when del Toro and Perlman get together, good things happen (PACIFIC RIM, I’m looking at you!).
With all this good, could it be Perlman has done bad? Yes… so much yes, actually, but it doesn’t matter, because with every bad there are a few more good, and let’s face it… regardless of the quality of movie he’s in, Perlman is always awesome. But THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, BUNRAKU, THE DEVIL’S TOMB, KILLER BY NATURE, and the highly anticipated MUTANT CHRONICLES are all bad movies. Every single one of them. And though he does well in the swords and sorcery genre, he has a few bad seeds under his belt as well… mainly IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE and the horrendous (yet hilarious) franchise sequel, THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION. What a stinker that turned out to be!
The real atrocities that Perlman will never be able to live down are his roles in two duds in larger film franchises: ALIEN RESURRECTION and STAR TREK: NEMESIS. Both movies are horrendous, both will forever be looked down upon as the worst in each of their respective series’, and you can’t help but remember that Perlman is in both of them. That said, can’t blame the guy for signing on for either of these flicks… he’d be crazy not to be in an ALIEN or STAR TREK movie!
Ron Perlman has a giant cranium. Let’s just get that out of the way first and foremost because it really is his most distinctive feature. The dude has a big head… and it’s that big head that has given him work over the years, and it’s one of the big reasons why he’s so famous and recognizable. He also has a deep, booming, almost cartoonish voice that adds to his awesomeness, but has scored him a shitton of work over the years. What’s one of the coolest things about Perlman is his ability to play good guys and bad guys with ease—seriously, the guy can pull off both sides of the sword and you believe it. That’s some serious skill right there.
A few years back the great Thomas Jane wrote, directed, and starred in a little movie called DARK COUNTRY. It was mostly a stylized film-noir mystery about a dude, his girlfriend, and some freaky shit that happens to him while traveling a lonely road in the middle of the desert. It’s mostly a Jane vehicle, and an entertaining one at that, but Perlman has a bit part as the evilish Highway Patrolman who stops to “help” Jane along the way. Perlman’s not in it for that long, but goddamn does he pull off a great performance—and a memorable one. I’m guessing most people haven’t seen this one, but it’s totally worth a look.
There is no lack of work for Perlman, and that is a great thing for all of us. Obviously, his biggest upcoming project is in this summer’s blockbuster extravaganza PACIFIC RIM, teaming up with director Guillermo del Toro and SONS OF ANARCHY co-star Charlie Hunnam. Shit looks dope, yo! Can’t frickin’ wait for that one to blast onto the big screen. On the smaller screen, he’s rockin’ a voice in the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE movie FLASHPOINT PARADOX, and on the even smaller screen is the next season of SONS, starting in the fall (which I absolutely can’t f*ckin’ wait for). Dude has a few comedies and dramas coming out as well (including one called KID CANNABIS, which has “classic” written all over it), so least to say the era of Perlman is not far from over. Oh, and there’s a rumored HELLBOY 3 on the horizon, but nothing is confirmed as of yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.
There are tough guys, and then there’s Ron Perlman. From superheroes (HELLBOY) to swords and sorcery (SEASON OF THE WITCH and OUTLANDER) to gangster flicks (DRIVE) and thrillers (DARK COUNTRY), the guy has his finger in just about everything—even TV (SONS OF ANARCHY) and animation (FLASHPOINT PARADOX). I’ve been a fan of his since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and while he doesn’t have a flawless filmography, he gives his all in everything he touches… so much so that he’s the only watchable thing in ALIEN RESURRECTION and even though he slept walked through SCORPION KING 3, he sure added to film’s overall entertainment. I love me some Ron Perlman and I can’t wait to see him on the big screen again in del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM… it’s gonna be epic!