Freddy Beans here with an interview with RON PERLMAN for his new film ASHER. An echo of the Sam Spade era of detectives with a hitman in the gumshoe’s place. It stars Ron Perlman as Asher, with Famke Janssen playing the love interest and Richard Dreyfuss the crime boss.
I reviewed ASHER last week for the site. That can be read HERE.
Without further ado, the interview:
Ron Perlman: Hey Fred!
Freddy Beans: Hi Ron, how are you doing?
RP: I’m doing good, brother. How are you doing?
FB: I’m hanging in there, man. Thanks for asking. I got the opportunity to watch ASHER, I liked it, it was a lot of fun. To start this off can you, in your own words, give a synopsis of ASHER for our readers?
RP: ASHER is an Israeli ex-Mossad trained killer making a living as a trained assassin. Over a number of years he’s come to terms with the fact that his best days are behind him. He’s gone over the crest of the hill and he’s getting nowhere fast. Living in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, he’s also become sort of disposable and unrecognizable. The movie is two anachronisms that are travelling down parallel paths it’s an investigation into what happens next.
FB: What was your favorite aspect of playing Asher?
RP: The fact that he and I are in a sense at a crossroads in our lives and at the end of the week our skillsets are turning into something less dependable both grappling with legacy issues and if this is indeed, the final windup.
What is it about my life that was significant, am I leaving the world in a better place than I found it, etc. So that was what resonated with me when I read it and why I was compelled to explore and do it.
FB: Going to the opposite side of that fence. What was the hardest part about playing him?
RP: There was nothing hard about playing Asher, the hard part was producing the movie. It took 5 years to do. We lost our financing at one point. We lost close to a million dollars. And we had to really pull out every trick in the book to get the thing back on track. Too finally say that it got made, after coming up against every obstacle that one can come up against in a small indie film, was a very big accomplishment.
FB: Yeah, absolutely man. I’m glad it got done, it was fun to watch.
You come across pretty humble Ron, reading your other interviews and everything. So I’m sorry to do this to you but how does it feel to have your first attempt start off with Jaquiline Bisset, Richard Dreyfus, and Famke Jannsen. That has to feel great, right?
RP: The thing that attracted me the most about forming a production company five years ago was the challenge of then trying to create an environment, a gateway that would give way to the great filmmakers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There was an environment that was happening then that allowed those guys to flourish. What they were doing is they were dabbling under a form of heroism, before heroes, after heroes. Stories that were characterized more by ambiguity than by black and white shades. When I read Asher it was the quintessential 70’s film. So the fact I looked around one day and I had Dreyfus and Bissett, two of the most emblematic people that defined that period of great American cinema was tranquil-like. It wasn’t planned, it was sort of like an act of God that they were both in the movie. That they were both in the thing and felt about it the same way I did. They came on board the project even though they could have made a lot more money working for somebody else. They came on board with love, passion and respect for the material, so it was tranquil-like, for real.
FB: It would have to be. I can’t even imagine. I’m glad it came together at all. A lot of these projects just die off. That other people fell in love with it, is great.
I do have one kind of personal question for you. You’ve been married for 37 years in Hollywood no less, I guess I’d just like to know what your secret is for a successful long term relationship?
RP: The mastering of the phrase, “You know darling, you are so right!” If you can master that phrase, and you’re a dude, you got a shot.
FB: I’m working on it, man.
RP: Just repeat after me, you know darling, you are so right?
FB: You know darling you are so…Oh, man I was so close there. (Laughs)
RP: Yes, it’s not easy. Especially in the beginning! You have to really work at it. (Laughs)
FB: I’m just kidding man. It is true though. It’s about basically becoming humble and baring yourself. Or that is what I’ve found works. Thank you for that.
RP: I’m just a really lucky dude. The way my life worked out. In spite of a lot of my own stupidities and weaknesses, I’m still a lucky dude.
FB: That’s fucking awesome. These days you’re best known for HELLBOY and probably SONS OF ANARCHY no doubt but for someone like me you’re always going to hold a soft spot as Amoukar in QUEST FOR FIRE. Is there anything you can share about that experience, it was your debut. I was just wondering if there was anything unique you’d like to impart on our readers about that experience?
RP: There was an awful lot I could share about that. It was the first movie I ever made and I was the third lead in it. It was a really auspicious way to begin. It marked the beginning of a full project collaboration that’s lasted 40 years between Jean-Jacques Annaud and myself. He’s one of my dearest friends. He’s somebody that my mouth opens up every time I think about the scope of his heart, the size of his curiosity and simply the projects he’s aligned himself with. A true ambassador of cinema.
The locations for QUEST FOR FIRE were esoteric. Scotland ya know? I thought, wow they are all going to be like this. He’s one of the most interesting people you can work with. It turned out I was really wrong about most of this.
RP: It was an incredible way to begin. It was magical.
FB: It is man, It’s a movie I had to show my kids. They got into HELLBOY and when I told them I was interviewing you, I was like you boys have to see QUEST FOR FIRE. And they loved it too. So it still carries over. Thank you for sharing that.
RP: Awesome! My pleasure!
FB: Sorry to put you on the spot, what are your feelings on HELLBOY continuing on without you or Guillermo attached?
RP: Well I’m pretty much at peace with what we were able to accomplish with two films and I’m also very much at peace with we put up as noble a fight as we could to complete the trilogy. But it wasn’t to be. I have completely moved on and what happens in the future in regards to that title is really none of my business.
FB: I appreciate that answer. For all intents and purposes, you are and always will be HELLBOY as far as my family is concerned.
RP: Mine too!
FB: Imagine that. (Laughs)
So this is a little off topic but I ask everyone this. What is your favorite all-time horror movie or movies if you have multiple?
RP: I don’t know if it’s classified as horror but THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.
FB: I would classify that as horror.
RP: Is that horror/sci-fi?
FB: I think it’s sci-fi/horror. I mean it’s a horrific concept.
RP: I don’t know how you’d categorize a movie like NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Maybe more a psychological thriller. It’s one of my favorite genre films.
FB: I just want to make sure, we’re of course talking about the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, correct?
RP: The original with Michael Rennie and Sam Jaffe.
FB: I had to make sure, just in case. I loved you as “One” in CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. What was it like being involved in that crazy film? Is there anything you can share on that one? It’s an amazing film!
RP: That was one of those dream like situations of which I’ have participated in more than my fair share. That was as dream-like as any. Playing “One” was another one, because of the amazing fight Marco Caro had to put up in order to secure me the role. The thing about CITY OF LOST CHILDREN is, I went to see DELICATESSEN. It was notable because it was filmmaking unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Tremendously original and unique. It was more style than substance and it was all the things that you know I find deliciously compelling about great emerging filmmakers. Then to be invited to play the lead in the follow up to that. I never understood if they made a mistake, or they couldn’t’ get somebody else or whether I was just that fortunate. But I took it and every single moment of that experience has lasted quite a while even though it was just a 7 month shoot. Every single moment is still vividly remembered to this day. The smells of Paris, the conversations. Everything about it was like living in an advanced state of grace for that whole shoot.
FB: Yeah you captured everything, even the film with those two words. “Deliciously compelling.” It’s kind of perfect, man.
This is slightly humorous but is there any truth to this announced run for president in 2020?
RP: It’s more humor than truth.
FB: I would hope so. I would love to see you as president though man, I’ll be honest. I keep up on your Twitter page.
RP: I would love to serve my country especially during these troubled times. The fact of the matter is I’m having so much fun working on my small independent films. That I can’t see myself taking time away from that.
FB: You have quite the library. If you could work with anyone on the planet living or dead who would that be? Or who or what inspires you?
RP: There’s a number of living people, but there’s not nearly as many living as dead, Jesus Christ. What I wouldn’t have done to been on the set with a Burt Lancaster, Jimmy Cagney, John Ford, Preston Sturges and Frank Capra. William Wilder. Bill Friedkin. I just have a shitload of films, I’m a real cinema lover and I have a shitload of heroes that have traversed these shores upon which we stand. The current crowd, of course, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino.
FB: I would love to see you in a Coen brothers or a Tarantino film man!
RP: Me too! If you know those guys, give them a call.
FB: I’ll make that happen man! Last question for you today. Besides Asher is there anything else you’d like our readers to keep an eye out for in the near future?
RP: I’m really proud of ASHER there’s so much of my last few years that are poured into that film. I hope it gets traction, I hope it gets some eyes on it. I hope people feel as strongly about it as I do.
FB: I’ll do my part to hype it up, we enjoyed it man, me and my girl.
RP: Thanks man, Thanks Fred.
FB: You’re welcome man, thank you very much for your time today Ron. I really appreciate it.
RP: Great conversation! Thank you, brotha!
Til next time, Kids!
- Freddy Beans