Looking for Easy Street? Just follow the horned Hellboy, badass biker Clay Morrow in Sons of Anarchy or Vincent the lion man from Beauty and the Beast.
The guy behind the facades is Ron Perlman whose self-professed Neanderthal bone structure and leading-man blue eyes have made him a household face.
Perlman, 64, has racked up more than 200 credits in theater, film, TV and voice work in his 30-plus years in Hollywood. Now, he’s the proud author of a revealing memoir, Easy Street (The Hard Way), co-written by Michael Largo with a foreword by one of his enablers, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
Of his many gigs, Perlman said in a recent Associated Press interview, writing a book is the “trippiest part of it all.” It’s something he never figured he’d do, until his two kids — 24 and 28 — followed him into the arts and he doubted they had strong models like the ones that shaped him: Bogart, Brando, The Beatles and more.
Perlman, a salty talker ever chomping on a fat cigar, does a lot of namedropping in his book, but the native New Yorker also digs deep into his childhood, his lean years selling handbags to support his family, his older brother’s suicide and his father’s sudden death.
And there’s “The Event,” as he calls it — his own suicide attempt with pills and booze after realizing he hadn’t hit Easy Street after all. There were no calls, no offers after his first big movie, Quest for Fire in 1982 in which he played a caveman.
Well into his second act, has Perlman finally made it?
Sons of Anarchy broke FX records. In addition to the book, which came out in September from Da Capo Press, Amazon just green lighted Hand of God for an original series, starring Perlman as a morally corrupt judge who speaks directly to the man upstairs through his brain-dead son.
Perlman’s production company, Wing and a Prayer Pictures, has 10 projects in the works.
“So I’m quite busy,” he said. “I’m in fantasyville right now. I really am.”
A conversation with Perlman:
You worshiped your dad, who used to take you to the movies and died of a massive coronary when he was only 49. And you hated yourself, the working class overweight Jewish kid who spent years thinking he wasn’t worthy of anything. How did you get past all that?
I could not begin to tell you where these feelings of low self-esteem emanated from. It was just this thing. When it came time to achieve things that required a good deal of self-confidence, even just dating of girls, you’re nowhere. That was me.
You’ve said there are things in the book that not even Opal, your wife of 33 years, knew about. What are they and did you think it wise to break any big news to her in that way?
The event. The only thing that’s in there that she was not privy to was that moment, what I tried to do. I got so low. I became clinically depressed, to the point where I couldn’t help myself anymore. I was getting ready to check out, and she didn’t know that I actually got that low.
What has “Sons of Anarchy” meant to you?
It’s far and away the most responded-to thing I’ve ever done in my entire career. That WAS a game changer. Playing Clay Morrow was challenging, until it got to be something else. The character went down some roads that became very, very uncomfortable for me to play. I began to lose my admiration for Clay. He began making decisions and behaving in such a way where I began to stop admiring him. And I never played a character in my career that I didn’t admire.
How did you feel about the way he was killed off?
Not great. I thought that there would be some sort of redemption at the end, that he would look at what he did and sort of have an ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ kind of a moment where he became truly remorseful and he made good with all of the people that he hurt along the way, but it wasn’t my show to write.
So you don’t like motorcycles?
I rode a little bit for the show. It never became my thing. It became a lot of the other guys’ thing. They really fell in love with this life, this sensation. I like my Bose speakers and the ashtray where I can put my cigar while I’m driving with two hands. I’m a different generation. The Sinatra generation.
AP TV WRITER