DID YOU READ

The Many Mutations of Ron Perlman

The Many Mutations of Ron Perlman (photo)

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Ron Perlman has done Ibsen, Chekov, Pinter and Shakespeare, but since his burly physique first filled screens in 1981’s “Quest for Fire,” the 59-year-old actor has become known as someone who can give strong performances under layers of facial prosthetics. (See also: “The Island of Dr. Moreau” and the TV show that launched his stardom, “Beauty and the Beast.”) It’s almost strange to see the demon hero of “Hellboy” without all the make-up, as Perlman can currently be seen au naturale (above the neck, anyway) as Clay Morrow on TV’s biker drama “Sons of Anarchy” and his new film, “Mutant Chronicles.” Based on a pen-and-paper RPG, director Simon Hunter’s post-apocalyptic horror actioner co-stars Perlman — alongside Thomas Jane, John Malkovich and Devon Aoki — as Brother Samuel, the leader of an ancient monastic order in a steampunk-esque future where four warring corporations rule all. Hideous, bloodthirsty “necromutants” have escaped from a portal below the earth, and Perlman must help lead a charge of soldiers to destroy the mutant-making machine. I spoke with Perlman about the intelligence and terrifying prescience of “Mutant Chronicles,” whether he likes cartoons, and how he ended up starring in Spanish and French films when he didn’t speak either language.

You’re a classically trained thespian, but the screen projects you’re most well known for tend to be genre works. Do you ever feel like you want to break away from those kinds of roles?

No, no, no. I don’t want to change anything. I’m really happy with the way things are going. Even though there’s been a huge amount of genre, it’s all been treated with intelligence and integrity. There’s always a larger sort of issue than the one-dimensional, obvious trappings of the world that we’re looking at. There are always great deals of humanity in the characters that have been offered to me. Yeah, Hellboy is big, he’s red, he’s got horns, he’s a demon, but you’re never able to describe his heart [so simply] because it’s so human, nuanced and admirable. It’s something to aspire to. As an actor, that’s what we do this for.

In a movie like “Mutant Chronicles,” that’s set in an otherworldly time and place when you’re grounded in the real world, do you ever just lose it and crack up when your dialogue concerns something called a Necromutant?

The thing that was so attractive about the “Mutant Chronicles” script was that it was smartly rendered. You didn’t find yourself having to fix hokey shit, you know? Sometimes you look at something and realize, “Holy shit, I can’t say this. I have to find a new way to express this same thought and hopefully make it more intelligent.” With “Mutant Chronicles,” I never had that problem. [It’s set in] this theoretical world some few hundred years in the future being divvied up into corporations. There are no more nationalities. Patriotism is only reflected in a pure economic sense. That’s the way the world was headed when we made this movie. The corporations were winning. We found out in the last few months, as our new president took office, that was a bankrupt set of values, and we’re paying for it now. Hopefully, it’ll be a wake-up call that you can’t forget the guy with the lunch pail. His needs will eventually kill you.

04242009_TheMutantChronicles.jpgSo you no longer see the world of “Mutant Chronicles” as an ominous disaster in the making?

I thought it was very prescient when I agreed to do the film three years ago. If you’re going to theorize what a world might look like a few hundred years in the future, it was as smart a guess as I thought could’ve been made. Then there’s the perpetual warfare element — these corporations are constantly at war with one another, [and] this “Machine” buried in the bowels of the earth unleashes this truly diabolical force that’s even more impersonal than the corporate one. [laughs] This soulless, bloodless corporate mentality is trumped by something even more soulless and bloodless, and I found that rather compelling.

The film made me think of Ewan McGregor griping about acting against a tennis ball in a “Star Wars” prequel. You’re no stranger to CGI backgrounds and effects, so is it challenging for you to stay focused when you’re performing against green screen, or is it like some Brechtian stage play?

Every time you get on a stage or in front of a camera, the whole exercise is about imagination. You’re constantly depicting something that doesn’t exist, and trying to find the reality of it. Once you settle on that premise, everything else is a matter of degrees. We’re working against green screen, so what? You’re still going to be imagining this world. After all, if it’s a $12 million set, which I’ve been on in big studio movies, you’re still using your imagination because you’re still just standing on a set. I don’t think it’s that big a stretch. Would Ewan McGregor prefer to be shooting this thing on Mars? Maybe that’ll help his work? It wouldn’t help mine. I need the craft service table nearby and an air-conditioned trailer to go take a nap. [laughs]

As much time in your life as you’ve spent in a make-up chair, how do you not get bored out of your mind just sitting there for hours?

Generally, I like the guys I’m hanging out with. All the guys who put make-up on me are salt-of-the-earth people where the conversation flies, the music is cool and we take a lot of cigarette and food breaks. We’re getting ready to do something that most people wish they could do, so it’s never been a problem. It’s always been a joy.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.