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Ron Perlman on getting girlie for “Frankie Go Boom” and his hedonistic “Pacific Rim” character

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Every now and then, a supporting role comes along that has the potential to be one of the most memorable parts of a film. “Pulp Fiction” had Christopher Walken’s watch-hiding former prisoner of war, “Tropic Thunder” had Tom Cruise’s slimy studio exec, and any movie in which Bill Murray had a supporting role had, well… whatever role Murray played.

“Frankie Go Boom,” the new comedy from “Around the Bend” director Jordan Roberts, has a transsexual computer hacker played by Ron Perlman.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The film stars Perlman’s “Sons of Anarchy” and “Pacific Rim” cast mate Charlie Hunnam as Frankie, a struggling writer who’s been pranked, ridiculed, and otherwise tormented by his brother, Bruce (Chris O’Dowd), throughout his entire life. When Bruce secretly records Frankie’s embarrassing one-night stand with the daughter of a crazy, gun-toting former celebrity (Chris Noth), the prank puts both of them in crosshairs when the tape ends up online. Their only hope to avoid catching a bullet – and saving Frankie’s relationship with the girl (Lizzy Caplan) – may lie with Phyllis (Perlman), an expert hacker who recently began life as a woman.

IFC spoke with Perlman about his gender-bending part in the hilarious “Frankie Go Boom,” as well as his role in Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” which also stars Hunnam.

IFC: This is one of those times when the old question “How did you get connected with this project?” probably has a great story, so…

RON PERLMAN: [Laughs] Well, this was Charlie Hunnam’s summer project one year between seasons of “Sons of Anarchy.” He gave me a call and said, “The director would like to know if you’d consider doing this.” I read the script looking at another character, but I got to the point where Phyllis enters the film and sticks his/her hand in… You know what? I don’t even know how to refer to Phyllis at this point. You’d think I’d know by now… But he/she sticks her hand in Frankie’s face. And the gesture of having Jax Teller [Hunnam’s character in “Sons of Anarchy”] kiss the hand of Clay Morrow [Perlman’s “Sons” character] in that scene, and the image of that in my twisted imagination, it was delicious enough for me to pursue the idea of making it a reality. So I looked at my to-do list and it said, “Take out the garbage,” “Repair the sink,” and “Play a woman.” So it was one of those things I could cross off the list.

IFC: How did you go about getting into character? Did you get any tips on how to play a woman?

PERLMAN: I just let it wash over me. The fact of the matter is, I had just finished making the movie “Drive,” and I think I finished at 3:30 in the morning and then went to work at 7AM to do my one day on “Frankie Go Boom.” So I knew I wouldn’t have much time to do anything but learn the lines, but I was going to have hours of getting various body parts shaved, waxing the old eyebrows, trying on the wig, figuring out which bosom is going to look best in a particular ensemble, and so forth… So hopefully by the end of that process and the time that I had to dwell on it, a starlet would be born.

IFC: Did you have any input on Phyllis’ wardrobe or makeup or anything?

PERLMAN: The makeup portion I had no input on. I just sat there absolutely delighted to watch it happen. The girls who designed the costumes, they were phenomenal people, and they were all basically working for free because it was such a low-budget film. They found so much glee in presenting these choices to me: the clothes, the wig, the nail polish color, the shoes, the bra, what went into the bra, what came out of the bra, etc. It was just a lot of fun. I’m probably the ugliest woman of all time at the end of the day, no matter how many hours you spend caring for all these decisions. I mean, seriously – I could haunt a house. We weren’t looking to replace Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot,” is what I’m saying. We had to take what god had given me, which was not much.

IFC: This seems like one of those films in which everyone was ad-libbing all the time and doing all sorts of things that would make it hard not to crack up in the middle of a scene…

PERLMAN: [Laughs] Yeah, it was very difficult. I had never met Chris O’Dowd before this, but I had seen his work and was a huge fan of his. So I shook his hand when I met him and introduced myself. I said,”Hi, Chris. It’s very nice to meet you. Can I ask you a question?” And he said, “Sure. Anything, Ron.” And you have to imagine him saying that in this beautiful Irish brogue. So I said, “Would you mind if, when you walk through the door in this scene, I kiss you right on the mouth?” You could just see him wanting to say, “Yes. Yes, I would mind.” Every fibre in his being was telling him to say, “Please, please don’t do that, Ron.” But he was such a gentleman that he said, “Well, if that’s what you feel like you really need to do, I guess you can…” And I said, “Good. Thanks!” before he had time to reconsider.

IFC: And that was your first conversation with him?

PERLMAN: Yeah, I’ve never broken the ice like that before, and hopefully never again. [Laughs]

IFC: So it seems like you and Charlie Hunnam are in everything together these days. Is this an intentional thing, or just one of those weird convergences in Hollywood?

PERLMAN: Yeah, we’re going to be making “On The Road To West Hollywood” next together. I’m going to do a little standup, he’s going to do a little singing. We’re going to be the new Hope and Crosby of the 21st century. [Laughs]

IFC: I would watch that.

PERLMAN: [Laughs] Well, thank you. But really, it’s just one thing leading to another. You get in these circles and then somehow can’t find your way out. [Laughs] The whole thing with Guillermo Del Toro falling in love with Charlie and putting him in “Pacific Rim” was highly coincidental. Charlie had made “Children of Men” with Alfonso Cuaron, and Cuaron is Del Toro’s best friend. Alfonso had great things to say about Charlie, and Guillermo was looking for a way to work with Charlie for a long time, and it just so happened that when “Pacific Rim” came up it was the perfect opportunity for them to collide. And Guillermo has made a promise to both the world and me – and I don’t think he cares what the world thinks, but I’m never going to let him out of it – that whenever he makes a movie in English, Ron Perlman will be in it. I’m sure one day that string is going to end, but he found a way to put me in “Pacific Rim,” so there you have it.

IFC: We haven’t seen much of you in the “Pacific Rim” trailers so far, so what can you tell us about Hannibal Chau, your character in the film?

PERLMAN: If you give it some thought and think about the idea of an unwieldy Jew from Brooklyn named Hannibal Chau, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that he’s full of shit. And sure enough, he won’t disappoint you. He’s completely full of shit. He’s a man of immense appetites – a hedonist. He likes money a lot and he’ll do anything for it. The situation in the movie has made him a kind of war profiteer. He has an arrangement with the government whereby he has the rights to harvest and reap the benefits of fallen kaiju [massive alien creatures] remains. So he’s doing the government a service by removing these things’ bodies, but he’s doing himself a service by breaking them down and using them for various purposes in the name of vanity. For instance, he sells kaiju bone powder for $500 a pound, because it’s supposedly 150 times more potent than viagra.

IFC: What else is coming up for you?

PERLMAN: We just started shooting the new season of “Sons of Anarchy” yesterday, so that will keep me busy for the next five months. I’m also launching my own indie film company. We’re about to announce a co-production with another production entity to do five movies with them. The first movie we do on our own will be one I’m directing called “Wooden Lake.” It’s in the process of casting, and that will all be announced in the next couple of months. I’ll start shooting that the minute “Sons” comes down in November.

“Frankie Go Boom” is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, and stars Charlie Hunnam, Chris O’Dowd, Chris Noth, Lizzy Caplan, and Ron Perlman. The film is written and directed by Jordan Roberts.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

Idris Elba is front and center in new “Pacific Rim” image

Pacific Rim IDris Elba lead

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The second installment in “Pacific Rim’s” character introduction campaign has arrived. After already showing off Charlie Hunnam’s character Raleigh Becket, codename Gispy Danger, a new image featuring Idris Elba’s PPDC Marshal Stacker Pentecost premiered online.

Expect more of these character-specific images to continue to roll out as we get closer to “Pacific Rim’s” release date. There are a lot of exciting actors taking part in “Pacific Rim,” so it will be nice to see each of them get their time in the spotlight.

“Pacific Rim” stars Idris Elba, Hunnam, Charlie Day, Kikuchi, Max Martini, Willem Dafoe, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Diego Klattenhoff and Ron Perlman. It’s due in theaters on July 17, 2013. Here’s the official synopsis:

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge.

But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Are you excited about Elba’s involvement in “Pacific Rim”? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Charlie Hunnam is the focus of new “Pacific Rim” still

gispy-danger-hunnamlead

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Guillermo del Toro’s latest, “Pacific Rim,” has been all over the place in its marketing, and it seems like we’ve reached a new phase of its advertising campaign with a new still that’s been released. The image features leading man Charlie Hunnam and focuses on the fact he’s a Jaeger pilot named Raleigh Becket. His codename, it seems, is Gispsy Danger.

Assumedly we’ll get more of these character shots moving forward. Hunnam might be “Pacific Rim’s” central character alongside Rinko Kikuchi, but there have got to be other major Jaeger pilots out there that Warner Bros. can play up. We’ll be intrigued to see who gets this same sort of front-and-center treatment in the coming weeks.

“Pacific Rim” stars Idris Elba, Hunnam, Charlie Day, Kikuchi, Max Martini, Willem Dafoe, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Diego Klattenhoff and Ron Perlman. It’s due in theaters on July 17, 2013. Here’s the official synopsis:

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge.

But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Has the marketing strategy for “Pacific Rim” engaged you? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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