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Ronald Francis "Ron" Perlman (born April 13, 1950) is an American television, film and voice over actor. He is known for having played "Vincent" on Beauty and the Beast, Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, and the comic book character Hellboy in the film of the same name and its sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Early life

Perlman was born in Washington Heights, New York. His mother, Dorothy, was a municipal employee, and his father was a jazz drummer and repairman. Perlman stated in a 1988 interview that "It was not a bad childhood but...I had a perception of myself that was, I was terribly overweight as a young kid, and it was sort of a low self image." Perlman continued to say that this experience is one thing that attracts him to "playing these sorts of deformed people who are very endearing".

He attended George Washington High School and later Lehman College in New York City in 1971, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre. He has said that he and his father were "very close", and that it was his father, after seeing Perlman in a college production of Guys and Dolls, who told Perlman, "You have to do this...You understand this? You gotta do this." Perlman says, "So, he gave me permission to be an actor...wow." Perlman attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a master's degree in theater arts.

Career

Perlman made his feature film debut in Jean-Jacques Annaud's film Quest for Fire (1981). After various minor and supporting roles in films and television series, his breakthrough role came when he played Vincent in the TV series Beauty and the Beast, opposite Linda Hamilton from 1987 to 1990. This earned him a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series in 1989.

He went on to play roles in many films and television series throughout the 1980s and 1990s as well as the 2000s. His most notable film appearances were in films such as The Name of the Rose (1986), Romeo is Bleeding (1993), The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994), The Last Supper (1995), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Alien Resurrection (1997), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Blade II and Star Trek Nemesis (both 2002) and two Stephen King story-to-movie adaptations, Sleepwalkers and Desperation. His appearances in television series include Highlander: The Series, The Outer Limits and The Magnificent Seven.

He played his first leading film role in 1995, when he played the gargantuan oaf "One" in Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's The City of Lost Children. In 2003, Perlman starred in a commercial for Stella Artois beer. This commercial, which was called "Devil's Island," won a Silver Award at the 2003 British Advertising Awards. He got another leading film role in 2004 when he played the title role in the comic book adaptation Hellboy. Perlman reprised his role as Hellboy in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, released on July 11, 2008.

In 2008, Perlman joined the cast of the TV show Sons of Anarchy on FX. He plays Clay Morrow, the president of the motorcycle club and stepfather of the main character.

Roles that required make-up

He is known for playing roles which require make-up, some to the point where his entire body is covered or his face requires full facial prosthetics. Some examples include his first film role in Quest for Fire, where he played a neanderthal, The Name of the Rose where he plays a disfigured hunchback, Beauty and The Beast, where he played Vincent, a man with the face of a half-man half-lion-like beast, The Island of Dr. Moreau where he plays a half man/half animal and the Hellboy films where he plays a demon. He even gave his Beauty and The Beast co-star Armin Shimerman advice when Shimerman was going to be in full-facial prosthetics for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Voice-over work

Perlman also has a successful career as a voice actor in addition to his onscreen acting, having portrayed characters in numerous video games and animated series. These include Vice Principal Lancer in Danny Phantom, Kurtis Stryker in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Justice in Afro Samurai and various characters in DC Comics based series such as the villainous Slade, a version of DC character Deathstroke the Terminator, in the Teen Titans animated series, Clayface in Batman: The Animated Series, Jax-Ur in Superman: The Animated Series, Orion in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Killer Croc, Rumor, Bane in The Batman and Doctor Double X in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

His video game credits include Lord Terrence Hood, Fleet Admiral in command of Earth's space defences against the Covenant in the games Halo 2 and Halo 3, Jagger Valance in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, and Batman in Justice League Heroes. He is well-known by Fallout fans for narrating the introductory movies in the series, including uttering the famous phrase "War. War never changes." in each installment. He also voices "Slade" in the 2008 Turok game.

Personal life

He has been married to Opal Perlman since February 14, 1981; they have two children, a daughter, Blake Amanda (born 1984), and a son, Brandon Avery (born 1990). Perlman has volunteered as an actor with the Young Storytellers Program.

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From Men's Health

The masks of tragedy and comedy—Melpomene and Thalia, respectively—are the international symbols of drama. Ron Perlman, who radiates rage, righteousness, and regret as Clay Morrow on FX’s powerhouse Sons of Anarchy (Season 3 just out on DVD, Season 4 launching September 6), knows this better than anyone; he’s worn more masks in his career than any actor since Lon Chaney, Jr. He’s played cavemen and hunchbacks, demons and beasts. In conversation, Perlman, 61, is quick, erudite, and given to quoting Shakespeare—a hog and a helmet away from the character for which he is now most famous. We recently caught up to one of America’s great character actors to talk about the TV show, Perlman’s career, and how he dropped 90 pounds as a young man.

Congratulations on Sons of Anarchy. It must be nice doing a project where people can actually see your face.

I know, huh? It only took me 60 years.

Regardless, you’ve played some truly indelible characters. That’s a good ride, right?

Almost all of your life is lived by the seat of your pants, one unexpected event crashing into another, with no pattern or reason, and then you finally reach a point, around my age, where you spend more time than ever looking back. Why did this happen? Look where that led? You see the shape of things. Without trying to sound hyperbolic or sentimental, this unbelievable ride I’ve been on—though its felt like flying by the seat of my pants all the way through—was exactly what I always dreamed.

A lot of movie stars become well-known for one kind of thing. No one ever knows what to expect from a Ron Perlman performance.

I’ve never been pigeonholed and I’ve experienced so many different kinds of skin—what man will do and won’t do, what you should do and shouldn’t do. This is what’s exciting about being an actor; where philosophy majors sit in classrooms or write books about human behavior, we’re actually acting them out in front of cameras.

Your character on Sons of Anarchy is more of a monster than many of the actual monsters you’ve played. Is that tough to play?

Even though there’s no makeup involved and it might seem like Clay Morrow is the most naturalistic performance I’ve given, he’s probably the most foreign to me of anyone I’ve ever played. He’s the first and only character I’ve played who doesn’t see two sides of an issue. And he’s the first and only character I’ve played who has no sense of humor about himself. Clay takes everything too seriously, and that can be very dangerous. He is not afraid of going down in flames. I’m very uncomfortable with him sometimes, which is a nice challenge.

Are things going to get tougher for Clay during Season 4?

When Kurt (Sutter, SOA’s creator) first mentioned the use of the Hamlet saga as the grounds on which to build the superstructure of our little story, I didn’t realize how serious he was. I could see he had the king and queen and the prince, and there was an assumption that the original king was the victim of foul play, but Season 4 is where we begin to get very Shakespearean.

As a classically-trained actor, how much fun is it to play Shakespeare on hogs?

TV is not known for being groundbreaking week in and week out, so I’m in a very, very, rare place, and I truly appreciate that. When Kurt first told me he wanted to do Hamlet with a motorcycle club, I thought he was crazy and maybe pretentious; I just didn’t realize who I was sitting across the table from. Kurt is relentless and his reach is extraordinary, exceeded only by his grasp.

You were a really overweight kid, dealt with some health issues, dropped 90 pounds, and have become a beloved actor. How has that journey informed who you are as a man today?

Distortions control my self-image, like they do for a lot of us. It’s irrational. It’s not in control. I will now share with you that I have never stopped thinking of myself as a fat guy, no matter how skinny I’ve been. The psyche is the psyche. That irrational part of you takes over sometimes, no matter how much cognitive thinking you do. You get overpowered, and then you manage it. That’s what my life’s been about—managing my way through the demons. On my good days, I’ll tell you I’ve managed very well. I’ve certainly been very blessed with opportunity.

A good jazz record and a cigar help at the end of the day, right?

I’m smoking a Camacho in my hand right now, but I’m cutting back. I’m trying to quit. I’m trying to wean Clay Morrow off the cigars too. We’ll see if we can get away from the crutch.

You did Guys & Dolls in college. Any chance we’ll see you singing and dancing again?

You’d have to come and catch me in the shower sometime, because that’s where it begins and ends these days. The universe has given me plenty of very clear signals that I should keep the singing to myself. (Laughs) Anything else is fair game, though.

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