Ron Perlman’s Guide to Being an Onscreen Thug

The Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy star gives us pointers on how to be a believable crime kingpin.

The Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy star gives us pointers on how to be a believable crime kingpin.

Ron Perlman may have inhabited over 150 movie and TV roles, but you know him as a de facto gangster, warrior, outlaw or general ruffian of Hollywood. With Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption arriving on DVD and Blu-ray, we asked Perlman how to become the perfect onscreen thug. We’re just happy he didn’t punch us in the face with his ginormous hands. (Thanks, Ron!)

1. Belong to the City

Perlman is a born-and-bred New Yorker and believes the city’s charming inhabitants help him create convincing goons. “I grew up in New York City, right on the streets…It provides you with a broad scope of behavior to call upon.”

2. Honor the Classics

Three actors set the standard for onscreen gangsters: Cagney, Eddie G. and Humphrey. (For those of you without Turner Classic Movies: James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.) So what makes them so badass? “The ruthlessness. They were phenomenal actors. They were going to be good at whatever you asked them to do. It just so happened they excelled at being gangsters. I’ll watch Cagney in White Heat and then [the musical] Yankee Doodle Dandy and I’ll think to myself, ‘There’s nothing this guy can’t do.’”

3. Thug It Up Anywhere and Everywhere

He’s been in motorcycle gangs on Sons of Anarchy and tried to bash in Ryan Gosling’s pretty skull in Drive, but he seeks out thug roles in some unexpected places, too. Like, for instance, Archer and, wait for it, Tangled. “They were both things that I was really excited to do. Because they both sprang out of great imaginations. I loved the guys I was working for on Tangled. And I loved the guys on Archer, too.”

4. Put Up With the Annoying Shit

Much like a high-ranking gang member, Ron Perlman has had to work his way up the Hollywood ladder. But character-building is essential in either field. “In any walk of life, in any profession, you’re going to have to get through a lot of annoying shit to get to the good stuff.”

5. Don’t Underestimate the Nice Guy…Because It Might Be Ron Perlman

At the risk of playing a gangster for all eternity, is Perlman looking for some blander, kinder roles? “No. [beat] I’m being facetious. If someone offers me a boring nice guy who’s actually interesting, I’m in.”

On Voice Work:

“I love to do it. It requires no real ceremony — you gotta go for the gusto right away. How you feel is what you’re going to get. I like working on that level; it keeps me on my toes.”

His Other Favorite Movie Gangsters:

Robert Mitchum, Lee Marvin, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

On His Many Heavy Make-Up Roles:

“Most of those take at least four hours to do, so I’m being prevented from doing the role for four hours, which can be frustrating. And once you’re in make-up, you don’t want to mess it up because repairs take even longer. You have to be careful about sweating, about scratching. It’s a skill unto itself.”

Why He Likes Being the Bad Guy:

“I have a fascination for gangster types. I think maybe we all do, maybe that’s why we’re attracted to the Edward G. Robinsons of the world and the Godfather movies. I just think there’s something amazingly interesting about the outlaw mentality.”

His Secret Stand-Up Comedy Past:

Before he become Hollywood’s go-to brute, Perlman was working on the East Coast…as a comedian. “When I was in New York, it was all comedy. It seemed to be nothing but me doing comedy on a stage. Then I moved to Hollywood because I started a family and needed to actually make some money, and it all changed.” Don’t believe us? Get ready for this mind-blowing clip.

Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is available on DVD and Blu-Ray starting today!