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


Posted by on

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.

Watch More

Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

Watch More
Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

Posted by on

End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

Watch More

Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet