The new live-action adaptation of the Monster Hunter video game series promises audiences some truly colossal beasts being featured throughout the adventure, with one of the biggest figures being actor Ron Perlman channeling a character that was lifted straight out of the games. Throughout his career, the actor has become a presence whose persona feels nearly as large as the creatures in the upcoming film, thanks to roles in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Blade II, and Sons of Anarchy. His most beloved role, however, arguably is as Hellboy for Guillermo del Toro's two films featuring the comic book character.
In the new film, "Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her unit (TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown."
ComicBook.com caught up with Perlman to discuss his interest in the project, collaborating with the cast and crew, and reflecting on the reception to last year's Hellboy reboot.
ComicBook.com: This film is coming out at an interesting time, as Hanukkah is just ending and Christmas is right around the corner, so seeing some huge monsters on the big screen is an unconventional way to celebrate the season. Do you and your family have any unconventional ways to ring in the holidays?
Ron Perlman: My family is very eclectic. There's a lot of religions, there's a lot of races that are represented in my family and we've always taken our favorite parts of all of the cultures, melded them into our own version of what we want to celebrate and give thanks to. It's been a kick, there's always a tree, there's always a menorah. It's eclectic and it's very festive and sometimes exciting, always joyous.
That's the way it should be, celebrating in the ways that spread the most joy. Your role in Monster Hunter has you appearing early on and returning for the third act, so you have a large presence even without much screen time. What was it about the project that excited you most? The script, the director, the cast?
Well, I think it was the gravitas of the situation. And then when you finally meet the Admiral, you realize that he has a skillset that rises to this mythic sense of needs in this very, very dubious, very tenuous, very dangerous world. The fact that I was asked to play something like that, it's always a thrill, like, "Oh, wow, really? Are you serious? You want me to be that guy? Yeah, let me take a quick look. I'll get back to you in a minute and a half," which is exactly what happened. I was in from the get-go.
And then, of course, what was on the page was phenomenal. It wasn't something I was expecting because when you're doing an adaptation of a comic book or a video game, you're not ... nuance and real diverse dynamics and great character elements are not necessarily going to rule the day. Whereas, when I started reading this thing, that's what [writer/director] Paul [W.S. Anderson] had infused in the script and the storytelling. It was a real page-turner. It was something that I felt was in a world that was very original, very unique, and it was being handled in a way that you always felt the jeopardy. You always felt like, if we get this right in the making of it, that people will be on the edge of their seats. You always felt like you were working on characters that were not one-dimensional or just servicing the plot, but that had their own interesting little quirks and idiosyncrasies, which, for me, that's everything. I was very enthusiastic from the moment I first read it.
Then, of course, I got [interested] even more so when I met PWS Anderson, a phenomenal guy. I would go to the ends of the Earth with this guy. He's very kind, got a beautiful temperament. He's quick to laugh. He loves to have a good time. He doesn't take himself seriously, but you can tell some really major wheels and gears are turning in the making of the film and it's all going to find its way onto the screen. So that was great. And then I had already known Tony from many, many years ago, had been adopted brothers through a whole set of other circumstances, but we hadn't worked together. We'd worked together one time, but never really where we had scenes together. So that was great. And then I met Mila and, okay. Game on.
I know what you mean. I only briefly spoke with her and was also ready to hunt monsters with her.
She is a doll. She's a really beautiful person and very generous to the rest of the cast. Very sweet, very humble, really hard-working, all the things that I admire in a fellow artist and somebody who I now can call a friend for life.
When I previously interviewed Paul about the film, he pointed out two things about your involvement in the film. He first said how disappointed he was that you had given up smoking cigars and that he couldn't smoke one with you. He also said you had some choice words when you picked up your weapon and realized how heavy it was. Do you remember your reaction to your prop?
Not only do I remember it, I don't quite remember what choice of words I used, although if you follow my Twitter feed, my choice of words is rather expansive. Yeah, it was humbling. I mean, it was like, "Wait, you actually ... I get the theatricality of these weapons, but did you actually have to make them be 55 pounds and then expect us to twirl them amidst our fingers and swinging and kill monsters with them?" It asks a lot of me, but you know what? It should have, because this is a very big dude in a very big position, in a very dangerous world. And anything that gets the attention of the actor in that way, where you go, "There are things around me that are bigger than myself, including the weapon that I'm using," that's a good thing. That's going to find its way onto the screen.
Since the film ends with an exclamation point of this big battle, but also with an ellipsis and the tease of more adventures, when you came on board, were you thinking about exploring more of your character in follow-up films or were you mostly just interested in this first installment?
Hopefully I'm not breaking any news here, but there was always this unspoken desire to see this turn into something other than just one film. I hate to use the word "franchise" because it's a hackneyed word, but maybe "trilogy" is more apt, but you don't dare talk in those terms because then you're just setting yourself up for failure.
So everybody put all of their love and attention into this one film, hoping that it resonated in a way where we were invited back to re-explore, and I'll just leave it at that.
People love you as Hellboy and I know you've said you weren't interested in last year's reboot, but when that movie fell short of expectations with audiences, did it give you any sense of relief in how it confirmed what you and Guillermo del Toro did was so special, or had you hoped for it to succeed because any attention towards the character is a good thing?
Well, I'm fond of [star] David Harbour. He's a really good guy and he's a really good actor, so I was hoping for the best for him, but I had my Hellboy epoch, era, was what it was. This has really nothing to do with it. There was no overlap. They were two completely different entities, so I didn't have an opinion about the new Hellboy or a wish for it to succeed or fail, but I did make it clear that if there was a chance to finish the trilogy with Guillermo, as we had done the first two films and in the image of what he had in mind in terms of closing all of the circles, that is something that I would, to this day, consider doing. But since it [didn't happen], then I had moved on and I didn't have an opinion about any of it. And I'm not being effusive or hyperbolic, that's just the truth of it.
Monster Hunter lands in theaters on December 18th.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.