Ron Perlman

Ron Perlman On Why Everybody Should Write A Book

Words: Holger Potye
Photo: Maarten de Boer

Hollywood’s nicest bad guy is only happy when he’s acting. But he thinks we should all become authors

THE RED BULLETIN: What’s the secret of an enduring acting career?

RON PERLMAN: The most testing part isn’t the time you spend working, it’s the time you spend not working. 

We would have expected you to say the opposite.

The real peace in my life has always come when I’ve been given a creative puzzle to solve. No matter what else is going on at the time, whether I am having personal difficulties or money problems, as long as I have something creative to do, I’m OK. It’s an addiction.

Why do you think that makes you happy?

It engages me. It defines me. It gives me a purpose and makes me feel like I’m contributing, which I think is a very male quality. If you don’t feel that you’re contributing, you start to feel useless. 

“If you don’t feel that you’re contributing, you start to feel useless”

So how do you cope with the testing times when you’re not working?

I kept having these frustrating phases, gaps between work that would often last for years at a time. Then, when I was 50, it suddenly all blew up. That was 15 years ago and since then everything’s gone well. I was at the point of selling my house, then the phone rang and it was Jean-Jacques Annaud on the other end, saying, “Hey, let’s make Enemy at the Gates!” 

Does your profession force you to think about your looks more than the average man? 

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my face. I spend a lot of time running away from what I think about my face. The only good thing you can say about my face is that it gets me mistaken for Tom Waits a lot. He’s such a hero of mine, it’s worth being this awkward-looking just to hear that once in a while. 

You’ve written a memoir titled Easy Street (The Hard Way). It’s pretty candid…

I actually feel as though everybody, when they get to their mid-60s, should write a memoir, whether you’re famous or not. It’s a very therapeutic thing to do. That book will basically force you to think about your life. You’ll realize what you’ve made of yourself, where you started, where you are now, and whether you’ll be leaving the world in a better state than you found it in.

It also ensures you know what you believe in: “Yeah, this is what I feel. This is what I stand for. This is who I am.” And you should do everything in your power to have the f*king balls to stand by it, otherwise you become like everybody else. If you just follow the tide, you have no right to complain. By articulating all these things, I got a clarity about where I want to go in whatever time the good Lord gives me from here on out. 

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03 2016 The Red Bulletin

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