Today: April 11, 2024

Ron Perlman On Why Online’s Where It’s At

From live streamed operas, to interactive secret cinema. From movies on demand, to plays adapted from films. The boundaries between between theatre, film and TV have been getting a mite blurred of late. This week, Shelley Marsden headed down to London’s One Marylebone where Amazon were launching their latest TV series… An online bookseller making movies? Where will it all end? And what exactly does it mean for the future of audiovisual entertainment? Can these hungry new companies beat the Hollywood big boys at their own game? Ron Perlman shared his thoughts on the whole kit and caboodle.

The plot may be a touch far-fetched, but Ron Perlman’s new series Hand Of God is strangely compelling. Written by Ben Watkins and directed by Marc Forster (Quantum Of Solace, World War Z) it pushes all the controversy buttons. And its characters defiantly refuse to fit easily into traditional notions of ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

The Sons of Anarchy star plays judge Pernell Harris, who we meet in the pilot jumping around naked in a fountain, seemingly speaking in tongues. At the London premiere of the first series Ron commented that it took “a couple of days for my little friend to reappear after filming those scenes, it was so damn cold!”

We discover that Harris’ son is in a coma (he shot himself after being forced to watch the rape of his wife) and learn that Judge Harris is, erm, clearly hallucinating. But is he getting messages from God, or has he simply had a mental breakdown?

Further craziness ensues with the introduction of a sex-mad priest (New Girl’s Brit star Julian Morris), Harris’ long-standing relationship with a hooker and a career-driven, seemingly frigid wife (Desperate Housewives’ Dana Delaney) who buries her grief in work and the odd powerful joint.

Perlman, 65, may be an old hand at the acting game, but he admitted he was “terrified” about taking on the corrupt judge – as he wasn’t sure his acting was up to it. “What really scared me most is how emotionally broken you see this character and how compromised he is, how much deep profound pain and sorrow he’s in and how everything he does springs out of that,” Perlman said.

“In order for the series to work, I knew the sorrow and the pain needed to be authentic, organic and real and I wasn’t sure that I was up to it. I wasn’t sure if I was able to get there without looking like I was acting. I knew whoever was going to play the judge was going to be tested and that’s the part of it that scared me. That’s what made me approach it trepidatiously.”

The first episodes see the troubled judge embark on a mission to find out who raped his daughter-in-law (Alona Tal), and tore his family to shreds. Perlman said: “He’s the notion of anti-heroism. He’s clearly your hero – he’s the guy through whose eyes you will experience this, but he’s got all these aspects to him that are repellent, repugnant, questionable and uncomfortable. He is somebody that I really needed to spend a lot of time on in my imagination to try and figure out. He was way more complex than, ‘I know how to do this’.”

Hand Of God is Perlman’s first leading TV part since the dark comedy Sons Of Anarchy and he said it was the writing and the characters – and the fact that he was getting all this away from a film studio – that drew him in. “The way it unfolded was way ahead of me, way smarter than I am and teeming with really interesting characters grappling with aspects of human behaviour,” he said.

Perlman added that streaming outlets like Amazon Prime and Netflix are raising the bar for dramas like this – ones that traditional film studios and TV networks might have deemed “too risky” or controversial. “I think it is the most exciting time for TV,” he said. “The amount of new players and the scope of what we’re allowed to do – we’re allowed to show full nudity, say anything we want and go as far as our imaginations can take us, and that’s because of all the new competition.”

He’s clearly not quite unhappy with Hollywood right now too, as he also had a spirited go at today’s films being utterly lacking in originality. “What we’re seeing in movies which everything is f***ing a copycat of everything else. There’s no originality, it’s all just steamed-over bullshit. That’s why you’re watching the creme de la creme all heading towards TV right now, because the environment is such that they’re allowed to do what they used to do in cinema, which was original, cutting edge, controversial and sophisticated.”

With a myriad of shows like Hand Of God now airing online, offering filmmakers and actors a freedom that film by its very nature cannot, cinema could have one hell of a big fight on its hands.

Hand Of God airs on Amazon Prime from today.

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