Five Favorite Films with Ron Perlman
The star of Mutant Chronicles shares his favorite classic films and what it was like to work with his idol, Marlon Brando.
While he's become best known for portraying a red, horned antihero in Guillermo del Toro's popular comic book adaptations Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Ron Perlman has long been a favorite character actor among fantasy and science fiction fans thanks to his work in films like Quest for Fire, The City of Lost Children, Cronos, and Blade II. This week, the classically-trained actor (who is between seasons on his critically acclaimed FX series, Sons of Anarchy) stars in Mutant Chronicles as Brother Samuel, a monk dedicated to guarding a set of scriptures that predict the coming of an ancient enemy.
Rotten Tomatoes talked with Perlman about his favorite movies and directors, whose films he watches when he's having a rough day, and his remembrances of working alongside one of his idols, Marlon Brando.
The two films that have to be tied for first --- and this is probably a hackneyed answer, but it is the way it is --- are The Godfather, Part 1
and Citizen Kane
. The Godfather
is a perfect film. There is not one shot out of place, there's not one performance that's not the best thing that actor has ever done. There is not one thing about the film, visually, that's not mind-bogglingly beautiful and elegant and astounding. And it shines a light perfectly on its subject matter.
I think that there's a gravitas, because of the presence of Marlon Brando
, in the first film, that elevates it [as opposed to The Godfather, Part 2
]. Not to say that the second and third films aren't great films also, but when you have something as historically important as the performance that Brando gives as Vito Corleone, as the kind of central fulcrum point, then it goes into a class all by itself. He achieved that three times in his career, as far as I'm concerned. One was On the Waterfront
. One was A Streetcar Named Desire
. And one was The Godfather
. And although he was the prevailing genius of the day, on those three occasions he just elevated phenomenally brilliant films into a place that became uncategorizable. How did he do that? It's so ethereal, and so indescribable, that you could try to analyze it from now until the end of time and you couldn't begin to put your finger on it. That was an otherworldly gift, that he had. Citizen Kane
(1941, 100%) is tied for first with The Godfather
. It just has to be, it's such an amazing achievement.
I don't think I would name films as much as I would name filmmakers. You have to have a Frank Capra
movie, you'd have to have a John Ford
movie, and you'd have to have a Steven Spielberg
movie in there. And then as a specific film, Pan's Labyrinth
would have to be in my Top Five. Because what Gabriel García Márquez was to fiction, that movie is to cinema. It's magical realism, and it's something that can only exist cinematically. It cannot be confused with any other medium. That makes it the perfect film. It's also unlike anything you've ever seen before or will see again, it's completely unique and not derivative, and it's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Setting fascist Spain -- or fascist anything, for that matter --against this fantasy world created by this perfect, pristine, beautiful, pure girl.
He identified in a way that was so joyously American; an innocence and a humanism. Just a beautiful heart, that he had, and was able to put into his work. Adding screwball comedy elements to it, but at the center of which were these important thoughts about how lucky we are to be alive. He was able to do that in ways that are cinematic and entertaining as well. And eliciting these performances -- like Jimmy Stewart
in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(1939, 96%) and Gary Cooper
in Meet John Doe
(1941, 92%), Cary Grant
and everybody else involved in Arsenic and Old Lace
I'd have to have a John Ford
movie; there are four or five movies of his that are tied in my book. He added a secular audience involvement in what was the beauty of cinema. In other words, he was the first guy that I think made movies live up to the potential of what they could be, and continued to do so throughout his career. He was able to be, to me, the most profoundly humanistic bridge between the potential of cinema and how it relates to the human condition. (Pictured: 1940's The Grapes of Wrath
He has to be in the discussion. He made one masterpiece after another, and you can't even pick which is the best. What are you going to say, that Close Encounters
(1977, 95%) was better than E.T.
(1982, 98%), was better than Raiders of the Lost Ark
(1982, 94%)? You just can't do it. You can't do it with Ford, and you can't do it with Capra either.
Next: Why Ron Perlman would love "another crack" at his one-time co-star and idol, Marlon Brando, and what films he takes on the road to cure his bad days