Ron Perlman relishes his ‘Big Ugly’ role — and speaking his mind on Twitter
The 70-year-old actor (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Hellboy,” “Sons of Anarchy”) is showing no signs of slowing down.
Two hours before I spoke with actor Ron Perlman on the phone Friday, he tweeted:
“Rep. Ted Yoho is a f------ bitch. Pass it on.:”
One hour before I spoke with Perlman, he had posted a photo several New York Yankees taking a knee on Opening Day and tweeted:
“F--- You Very Much, Mr. President.”
Suffice to say Perlman isn’t taking his foot off the social media accelerator in the wake of his now-famous feud with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose idea of talking tough to Perlman on Twitter was to challenge him to a wrestling match for charity, with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as his surrogate. (Can you say problematic?)
‘The Big Ugly,’ directed by Scott Wiper; written by Wiper and Paul Tarantino. Starring Vinnie Jones, Ron Perlman, Nicholas Braun. Run time: 106 minutes. Streaming July 31.
Nor is the 70-year-old Perlman (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Hellboy,” “Sons of Anarchy”) showing the least signs of slowing down as an actor.
He plays a shady government operative in the limited dramatic series “The Capture” on Peacock. He costars with Michael Pitt and his old “Anarchy” running mate Mark Boone Junior in the recently released action drama “Run With the Hunted.” And he plays an oil man/crime baron named Preston in the modern Western noir “The Big Ugly,” which will premiere Friday on digital platforms.
The title of the latter, Perlman explains, comes from the setting of the film.
“The Big Ugly is a swath of terrain in West Virginia. It’s oil country. Preston is a conflagration of characteristics all rolled up in one big, tough oilman. He’s a real conservationist, first and foremost. He has a great deal of respect for the land, he has a great humility when it comes to what God put here and how it should be honored and respected…”
In an early scene, the cowboy-hatted, good ol’ boy-appearing Preston approaches a bunch of young rowdies flying a giant Confederate flag from their pickup truck. He takes it down and says, “I don’t give a s--- what your politics are, but I believe in winning and losing. … You want to fly a flag, hey, go win something. Riding around with this just says, ‘Hey, I’m a f------ loser.’ ”
Says Perlman, “That scene happens on Page 11 [of the script], and I got to Page 11 and said, ‘I’m doing this movie.’ I knew right then and there we were dealing with a world with that was original, unique, complex, the way life is… because nothing is ever black-and-white. This was a great opportunity to go to that funky place where one likes to go [as an actor].”
For all his complexities and nuances, Preston also operates like an old school mob boss. The drilling he’s overseeing is illegal; his business partner, played by Malcolm McDowell, is the most powerful mobster in London. If you get in Preston’s way, he and his henchmen will not hesitate to put you down. Perlman says all those traits in Preston attracted him to the role.
“My whole criteria for choosing a role at this point in my life is, first, am I not going to stink out the joint? Number two, am I going to repeat myself as little as possible? The thing this guy has in common with a lot of characters I play is he’s a Type A personality; he’s the straw that stirs the drink, he has a lot of people who work under him and who answer to him. That’s nothing new, but what’s new about this guy is his regionalism, what he’s chosen as his skill set [and] this compassion he has for the community around him, that he’s responsible for their well-being and he wants to leave the world as beautiful as he found it. All new colors for me.”
Perlman also says it was just a kick to act opposite McDowell.
“I’m just a fanboy,” he says. “I’m a movie geek, and when I get around my heroes. … You don’t look at Malcolm McDowell without seeing his incredible filmography that has been a companion of yours all your years. … I kept saying to him, ‘Is that OK? Did I hurt your feelings?’ ”
One area where Perlman doesn’t worry about bruising feelings is his aforementioned Twitter platform.
“I wish we were living in different times. I wish I wasn’t as upset by the people who have so much influence in our daily lives. …[My tweets] are an expression of that anger… that I have to get out. I’m not happy about it; I try to do it with unabashed — straight indignation mixed with a little wit where I can, in order to stay sane.
“We’ve been sucker-punched by a series of dire circumstances. All I’m doing is my little part every day to say this is intolerable.
“But I very much believe we will [get back to that place]. I’ve always been an optimist. … This is a swing of the pendulum that is scary, but the pendulum will swing back.”