Playboy.com sat down to talk shop with actor Ron Perlman in anticipation of his upcoming release to Blu-Ray, The Scorpion King 3.
Classically-trained actor, Ron Perlman, ups the ante in the action-packed adventure flick, Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption—available on Blu-ray Combo Pack with UltraViolet, DVD and Digital Download January 10, 2012 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption is the latest chapter in the Scorpion King movie franchise. The series, a spin-off to The Mummy, follows the life of Mathayus the Scorpion King, a character featured in The Mummy Returns. Scorpion King 3, directed by Roel Reine (Death Race 2), features Ron Perlman in the role of King Horus of Egypt, Victor Webster as Mthayus, and Billy Zane as Talus, the evil tyrant.
Perlman, 61, is known for his roles in such films as Hellboy, Drive, Season of the Witch, Blade II, Alien: Resurrection, Enemy at the Gates and The Name of the Rose, to name but a few. Perlman has also made a strong mark in television, most particularly, since 2008, in the role of Clarence “Clay” Morrow, the motorcycle gang leader of FX’s hit show Sons of Anarchy.
We spoke to Perlman over the phone from New York City in late December.
PLAYBOY.COM: Scorpion King: Battle for Redemption is about to premiere. Where was the movie filmed?
RON PERLMAN: In Thailand, exclusively. At least my part of it was.
PLAYBOY.COM: What was it like to shoot there?
PERLMAN: It was kind of a revelation. It was beautiful. It was my first trip to Thailand, and I just so loved the country and the culture. And getting a sense of how other people in the world—particularly in parts of the world as exotic as that— go through life. I got the chance to discover the splendiferous Bangkok. And then some more remote parts of Thailand that very few people get to see.
It’s a privilege being an actor, and being able to discover the world not as a tourist, but as someone who’s actually invested there and working alongside people who know only Thailand. So you’re kind of getting it from their mindset, because you’re on an equal plane.
PLAYBOY.COM: So does that kind of sense of dislocation, or foreignness help shape the way that you create the fantastic universe of Scorpion King?
PERLMAN: It doesn’t hurt. But you know, you’ve got to be able play that guy if you’re in Thailand or if you’re in Burbank. So much of what we do is a result of our imaginations, and thinking: ‘What would it be like if I was in the world of 1,600 years ago and these were the conditions?’ Being in Thailand and being in a place that’s new and exotic probably feeds into that quite well.
PLAYBOY.COM: There’s a lot of sword action happening in Scorpion King. What kind of weapons master teaches people sword-wielding skills these days?
PERLMAN: Actually, did you ever hear of a movie called Ong-Bak...Oh my god it’s one of the great action adventure martial arts movies. It’s this Thai movie that came out about two, three years ago. And now it’s going to be a franchise, a series, because it was so mind-blowingly cool. I saw it with my son, who is a martial artist. The guy who did all of the fight choreography in Ong-Bak, [Panna Rittikrai], did [the stunt choreography] for Scorpion King. So I got a chance to work with somebody who had already blown my mind. And it’s kind of an honor to be around a guy like that. You just listen to everything he says and you know you’re in amazingly good hands, and that if you just follow his lead you’re probably going to look okay. Because everything you’ve seen him do looks way, way more than okay.
PLAYBOY.COM: Given that the Scorpion King films are set a couple of thousand years prior to The Mummy storyline; does this affect the historical accuracy of the weapons, or stunts?
PERLMAN: [Rittikrai] goes and does the research. He pinpoints the time, and the style of fighting that was employed at the time, and the style of swords that were employed at the time, because swords come in many shapes and sizes, and you want to get that right.
PLAYBOY.COM: You’ve played a slew of action-heavy roles, between your work in Hellboy, and Conan the Barbarian, and Sons of Anarchy (to name a few), and you’re known for doing a great deal of your own stunt work. Would you say you’re very comfortable with swords at this point, or are you more at ease with other kinds of fight stunts?
PERLMAN: No, I’m not comfortable. I’m challenged by it. And I feel that it’s important to look as comfortable as is humanly possible to look in a movie like Scorpion King or Conan the Barbarian, where the swords and the forging of your own weapon--something that took place back in those days--is something that you immerse yourself in. And that’s the challenge. Especially for someone like me who grew up in New York City in the twentieth century. That’s the fun of it, making the leap. It’s trying to allow your imagination to take you to a place where conditions were completely different in every way that they are, where the things that are the extensions of your persona are completely different than anything you’ve ever known. That’s the joy of acting.
PLAYBOY.COM: I can see that.
PERLMAN: I’m sure you can!
PLAYBOY.COM: You’ve working alongside director Guillermo del Toro on both Hellboy I and II, and you’re set to star in his latest project, the science fiction kiju film Pacific Rim. Tell me about your ongoing collaboration.
PERLMAN: We’re about to start our fifth project together. When we’re not working together we’re eating and socializing and enjoying each others’ company. I guess I enjoy that guy’s company on a multitude of levels, and I’m not sure which one is more mind-blowing. The professional collaboration, the amount of stuff that we’ve done together on a creative level, or just the friendship. Because they both occupy singular places in my life. And the impact he’s had on me and on my career is kind of indescribable. He’s somebody that I love and that I admire. And I get to experience him on both levels.
PLAYBOY.COM: How does playing roles like King Horus or Hellboy, with all the largeness of their internal, comic book slash speculative storylines compare to playing a character like Sons of Anarchy M.C. President, Clay Morrow?
PERLMAN: Every single job you have has a personality of its own. And a scope of its own. But none of that changes your fundamental approach. And none of that changes what you know the job to be, which is just to find truth in the character. Sometimes you have to get that truth to come out faster than others. In a movie like Hellboy, you’re shooting a page and a half, two pages a day. Whereas on a show like Sons of Anarchy, you’re shooting anywhere between six and ten pages a day. So you’re just working faster. But you’re working with the same skill set, and pretty much that doesn’t change. The conditions change. But you’re depending a lot on your imagination, and on your ability to say ‘what if.’ You have to block out a lot of stuff, you know, because when the camera’s rolling, you have to be in a very quiet, personal, private space to be free.
* Scorpion King: Battle for Redemption is available on Blu-ray Combo Pack with UltraViolet, DVD and Digital Download January 10, 2012 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.