Ron Perlman has made peace with the death of 'Hellboy 3': 'It's just never going to happen'

Ron Perlman has made peace with the death of 'Hellboy 3': 'It's just never going to happen'

At 73, "Hellboy" star Ron Perlman knows he's too old to be hurling himself into action-packed fight scenes. That self-awareness is something he plays up in his scene-stealing guest appearance in the fifth episode of Amazon's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."

When the titular couple played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine extract Perlman's mysterious Toby Hellinger from Lake Como, they must flee from squads of armed men through the idyllic Italian locale. That's not easy when Toby can barely run, let alone fight.

"This is killing my fucking knees," he spits while trying to get down a flight of stairs.

It's playfully ironic, since Perlman has delivered plenty of action-heavy performances over the years. But the morally ambiguous Toby is past his prime — and Perlman jokes that he's long past his, too.

"I was 54 years old when we did 'Hellboy,' and I was a little too old to do it," he told Business Insider of the Guillermo del Toro film.

But with 45 years in the business and hundreds of credits under his belt, Perlman said his career couldn't have turned out better. "I'm pretty sanguine, as it all went way, way better than I could have possibly drawn up."

In the latest installment of Business Insider's "Role Play" series, Perlman talks about finally saying goodbye to "Hellboy 3," the uncomfortable butterflies he got on "Sons of Anarchy," and his dream musical role.

On his decadeslong partnership with Guillermo del Toro

Ron Perlman as Hellboy.
Ron Perlman as Hellboy.Sony Pictures Releasing

It's the 20th anniversary of “Hellboy” this year. Do you have any defining memories of being on set with Guillermo del Toro?

It took seven years for del Toro to convince anybody to finance a comic book franchise with me in it. I was, at best, a kind of middling character actor who you would see at sixth or seventh on the call sheet.

Working with Del Toro is as irreverent an experience as you can get. He has the intellect of an Einstein, but he has the demeanor of a 13-year-old boy who's going through puberty. So there's a lot of irreverence to the proceedings. There's a lot of laughter.

Then there's the knowledge that you have, as I alluded to earlier, a 54-year-old aging Jew who chases monsters and otherworldly creatures, and they're outrunning him every step of the way, because he's 54, for crying out loud!

So we had a really good time playing make-believe that there was this young spry superhero who was really a fat slob. Hellboy really would rather stay home, watch the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, eat pizza, and play with the cats — rather than go out and save the world.

I mean, that sounds like a great evening to me.

Me too. And that's why he fought so hard to get me to get the role, because there aren't a lot of bigger slobs in Hollywood than me.

“Hellboy 3” is one of those projects that many fans were desperate to see, and it's a shame it never came to fruition. What's it been like over the years holding out hope for it?

I've only recently let go of the fight in me to get the third one made. I felt it was conceived as a trilogy. At the end of the second one, you were left on the edge of your seat wondering how this was going to play out because Liz is pregnant with twins and Hellboy has this oracle to destroy the earth. Oracles are not to be toyed with, as the Greeks taught us, you can't escape your fate.

And I think del Toro was setting up some sort of a real huge conclusion as to whether the nature or the nurture of Hellboy would win out and what price needed to be paid in order to win the day. I thought it would've made an incredible closure for the people who had invested all that time watching the first few films.

I’ve always thought it was a crime that we never got to finish it. And I made no bones about how I feel. And I probably pissed off a few people in my public ravings about finishing this trilogy. But now I've finally gotten to the point where I realize it's just never going to happen.

I think most fans are just grateful we got two amazing “Hellboy” films regardless.

That's how I look at it. And that’s two more than we all felt we were going to get when del Toro was fighting to get a fat aging Jew, who nobody knew who he was, to play the titular character in this comic book franchise. We've got to be grateful.

On whether he’d return for a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ follow-up

ron perlman sons of anarchy
Ron Perlman as Clay Morrow in "Sons of Anarchy."FX / Sons of Anarchy

You played Clay Morrow for five years on “Sons of Anarchy.” Clay's relationship with Jax Teller is one of the most fascinating arcs in the series. How did you and Charlie Hunnam work on making that animosity between the two of you feel so genuine by the end of the show?

Well, we actually really hated each other. So it wasn't hard.

No, I'm kidding! It made for some uncomfortable moments when I had to look into his eyes knowing what I had done to him and what I had done to his dad, and then asked for his love and respect.

I knew it gave me butterflies, but it was the job. And so you're constantly having things that are yelling and screaming at you “Don't do this, don't do this!” And then on the other shoulder, there's this guy going, ‘Well, this is what you've been hired to do, so get over it and get over it fast.’

It was a very complicated six years, particularly with how we had to navigate that. The resolve of it all was incredibly uncomfortable, departing a show that we were all involved in for that long and under the circumstances that finally led to what Jax needs to do in order to get his pound of flesh, his sense of justice.

Charlie Hunnam and Theo Rossi recently teased their involvement with a new “Sons of Anarchy” project. Would you return as Clay if the opportunity came up?

Well, I know about the thing that's kind of percolating behind the scenes, and I'm not going to say anything about it other than the fact that one of our dear members has found a way to revisit the world in an incredibly obtuse way, but in a very dramatic way.

And all of that, of course, was interrupted by the strike. Now that we're all back on the grid, we'll see where it goes, But there was a huge amount of interest to bring to get the band back together. So hopefully I'll have some news to break for you soon.

On his ‘very expensive wife’ and not turning down many roles

Linda Hamilton as Catherine and Ron Perlman as Vincent in "Beauty and the Beast."
Linda Hamilton as Catherine and Ron Perlman as Vincent in "Beauty and the Beast."CBS

You've got 280 acting credits to your name. What's the one project you think deserves more attention?

Yeah, I have a very expensive wife, so I needed to really not stop — couldn't afford to stop, probably. I mean, we've already talked about how I wish there was a third "Hellboy."

There aren't that many others, though. There was a period where I felt as though there was more to say about the "Beauty and the Beast" saga that would've included more mysticism because there was a kind of fantasy element to the show that you can only do so much with on a TV series.

Put that on a big screen, and you can start to mine this very, very graphic love story with all of the trappings of a made-up world and a made-up monstrous character, et cetera, et cetera.

So for a while there I was doing everything I could to find a way to transfer that to the big screen. But, pretty much, I'm very grateful for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Is there a memorable role over the years that you've turned down?

No! When you see 280 credits on one person's résumé, there's not a lot of turning down!

Just tell me what time to be there, and send a check to my family. They're going to spend it anyway. Go as fast as I can. Cover as much ground as I can.

What is the role that got away?

People will laugh when I say this. I really would like to have a crack at playing Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." And I say that because I can imagine myself having a great time exploring that character in that world.

I've been so lucky to play so many kinds of facets of humanity in these 280 credits, but there's nothing else I could kind of fantasize or wish for other than Tevye and "Fiddler on the Roof." The American audience just needs to see me singing and dancing in a prayer show. I just feel like they do, and I'm sticking to that theory.

Well, let's get the campaign going.

I think we just did, bro!

Speaking of "Beauty and the Beast," you've played a few monsters over the years. Which of your monsters would win in a fight? Hellboy, Vincent from "Beauty and the Beast, " or "Blade 2" vampire Reinhardt?

It would be a draw! I don't think Reinhardt… I don't think any of 'em would prevail. I think that they would all end up really, really bloody. But the good news is that when the donnybrook was all over with, they would all enjoy a beer and a whole bunch of laughs and a couple of cigars.

One of 'em would be holding some really good Cubans. It’s probably Hellboy.

"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is streaming now on Prime Video.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Read the original article on Business Insider