Fact: It's impossible to hate Ron Perlman.
Okay, so maybe we don't have any actual, statistical evidence on hand to back that up as fact, but we're still pretty sure it's true. There's just something about him that's inherently likeable. Maybe it's that he looks like a battle-hardened teddy bear. Maybe it's because he's great at nailing deadpan comedy. Whatever the case, it's really, really hard to not get excited any time you see Ron Perlman's name in the credits, because it's a guarantee at least one thing in the movie will be good.
In the case of Crave, thankfully the entire film is a good, solid thriller about a crime-scene photographer with an increasingly disturbed imagination, but it's Perlman specifically that brings us here today. In it he plays a homicide detective who often gives the troubled man at the heart of the film a new perspective on things. It's not the first or last time Perlman's played a cop, and yet it's a performance and character that still feels fresh and, well, likeable, even when the world he's living in is growing increasingly grim.
We recently spoke with Perlman on the phone ahead of Crave's December 6 release on VOD platforms everywhere, to talk not only this film, but his always busy career in general, which has never been better.
Movies.com: You're such a prolific actor that it seems like you never actually take time off these days. Do you, and if so, what do you in your downtime?
Ron Perlman: I have lots of time off. It seems like I work a lot, but these little films – like Crave – are low budget. I've had the good fortune of being on this TV show for the last six years, and the other good fortune is that it only shoots five months a year, which lets me have time to do these. My favorite thing in the world is great writing, and you find it more in the world of low-budget indies than anywhere else. And by the nature of these things, there's not a lot of resources like money, or more importantly, time on the shooting schedule, so you can bang one of these out in a week or two even if you have a sizeable role. So it seems like I'm really busy, but a lot of these really cool movies that I'm in that are in the process of coming out over the next few years didn't require very many days of work on my part.
Movies.com: Do you ever seek out movies or do productions tend to seek you out first?
Perlman: It's a bit of a combination. There are four or five now, aside from Crave, that are on the precipice of finding their way into the zeitgeist. I don't know what that means for them, since some will be theatrical and some won't be, but a lot of the time I guess the word is out there that I like to do little indies, so they come my way. If the writing is really decent and the role is one I feel I can be effective at and haven't really done before, then I'm in. The good thing is that since I do have this TV series, I have a day job that affords me the ability to do whatever I want and not have to worry about keeping the lights on.
Movies.com: Are there any types of characters that you're dying to play but haven't yet?
Perlman: No, not really. A writer I'm not, and the reason I'm not is because, A, I can't write, and B, I don't have the imagination of these writers that I admire. I don't know what kind of water they were drinking when they were kids, but they don't think like I do -- and thank God for that! They come up with these inventions that are so fun to dive into, psychologically and behaviorally. For me the fun of acting is, if you go by the premise that we're all capable of anything based on whatever our stimulus is as we're being socialized, or based on any given set of circumstances. Somebody attacks someone near and dear to you and suddenly you have this supernatural strength and violence that's new to you, I just want to explore the human condition and take as many looks at it as I comfortably can. And when I say comfortable, I mean things I can actually understand and execute well enough to be effective. That's my criteria.
The reason I won't answer your question is because roles often come to me in such random ways. In fact, everything I've ever done – everything – has sought me out. While I was looking, s**t found me, so I've now stopped looking. Way more interesting s**t finds me than what I was actually looking for, and as I keep getting older, that keeps getting kinkier and weirder and more wonderful. The roles that I have in the can right now are some of the greatest characters I've ever played. And even though they're smaller movies, and people may never see them, I know I did them and I had a f***ing ball doing 'em, and really that's all that matters to me.
Movies.com: You've been quoted as saying, "I don't like working with me. I would punch myself in the mouth if I had to take my direction." Is that still true these days?
Perlman: Yeah, well I'm about to direct my first movie, and as a lot of people have asked of me, "Are you in it?" And I say "No, I would never work with me." It's kind of a joke. But the only other time I've directed I was acting, and my performance suffered because I was too busy worrying about the big picture that the director has to think about, and my directing suffered because on the days when I was acting I was too busy being vain and narcissistic and all the other things that are called upon when that's your thing. Unlike the greats, like Mel Gibson, Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner and all these other people who have given amazing performances while they've directed amazing films. I don't understand how they did that. Ben Affleck! I am not that guy. I gotta do things one at a time.
Movies.com: What can you tell us about the film you'll be directing?
Perlman: It's a beautiful film about two brothers, though it's really about the whole family, and the relationship these two have with themselves and the community at large. It's a drama, so there's not a whole lot of plot. It's more of a character study. But it's a beautiful piece of writing. It's the only thing I've ever read and said, "I have to direct this." I have never said that before, but the world was so vivid in my mind, and I understood that it didn't really require a lot of pyrotechniques as a filmmaker. It was more about telling a great story by casting great actors and pointing the camera in the right spot, so I felt confident I could do it. It's called Wooden Lake.
Movies.com: Are there any other films coming up that you'd like to beat the drum for?
Perlman: There's one called 13 Sins that I loved doing. It's based on a Thai film called 13. I was a huge fan of the adaptation. The writing was phenomenal. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know how it turned out, but I loved making it. Daniel Stamm directed it. There's another one that I'm completely nuts over called Curfew, which was the Academy Award-winning, live-action short film of 2012. It was the most flawless, perfect, beautiful piece of filmmaking I've ever seen in my life. The guy who actually won the Academy Award wrote it, he directed it, and he stars in it, and he's another guy who nothing suffers while he's able to do all of those things seamlessly. His acting is kind of a cross between Mark Ruffalo and Montgomery Cliff, he's completely magnetic to look at on-screen. He decided to open the movie up and turn it into a feature, which is in postproduction now. If it's anything like the short, like the original, it's just going to be amazing bragging rights to say, "Hey, I was in that motherf***er!"
Movies.com: Is there any chance we're going to hear you utter the words "War, war never changes" for another Fallout game anytime soon?
Perlman: I hear they're gearing up for another one. It's not a fait accompli, but I hear they've found a way to bypass me. I don't know that for a fact, it's just something I've gathered over the last few days, now that I'm a member of the social media world.
Crave is available on Video On Demand services starting December 6, 2013.
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