Why Ron Perlman loses the makeup for Mutant Chronicles

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

When you hear "Ron Perlman in Mutant Chronicles," you may assume he's playing one of the mutants. Ever since Quest for Fire and Beauty and the Beast, Perlman has made a career playing prosthetic creatures in films like Star Trek: Nemesis and Hellboy. But he doesn't wear prosthetic makeup for his role as Brother Samuel. At least for most of it.

In the movie, set more than 400 years in the future, Earth's natural resources are depleted, and corporations fight wars instead of countries. When mutants appear on the battlefield, Brother Samuel offers the Chronicles, which predicted both the mutants and the Deliverer who would save humanity from them.

SCI FI Wire spoke exclusively with Perlman by phone last week. The following Q&A features edited excerpts from that interview, in which he also addresses the prospects for a third Hellboy movie. Mutant Chronicles is now available on Video on Demand. It opens in theaters April 24.

So no makeup this time?

Perlman: I wouldn't go that far. You've got to see the movie.

Oh, something happens to you?

Perlman: Oh, yeah, lots of things happen.

It looks like we're seeing the real Ron from the previews.

Perlman: Yeah, for a good deal of it, you are.

Were you worried when you saw the word Mutant in the title?

Perlman: Well, I kept looking for which one I was playing, because I was convinced that it would be me under all the mutant makeup, but somebody had a bonehead idea that it wouldn't be me, that I was going to appear almost like myself through the whole movie. It was an experiment that went awry.

How religious is Brother Samuel?

Perlman: There is a spirituality to the order that he presides over. There is a highly articulated relationship with God and the scriptures. But he's more than that. The order was sort of founded to be the keepers of this Chronicle, which was written by the warrior prophet Naftan in defeating this enemy that had visited 1,000 years before and that had been a profound threat to the continued existence of mankind.

The Chronicles were shrouded in this mountaintop monastery, very remote monastery, and the expressed mandate of Brother Samuel's order is to guard the Chronicles and follow the tenets should this enemy reappear. So the event of the Mutant Chronicles movie is the reappearance of this profoundly threatening force—diabolically weird and insidious force—which animates Brother Samuel. That's the jumping-off point of our film. ...

How badass is Brother Samuel?

Perlman: Well, Brother Samuel is me, so when I have to be a warrior, I do the best I can. It's clear that I was not born to be a warrior. It's just something that I've taken on as part of my vow to do everything in my power to keep this enemy at bay, including laying down my own life and laying down my own safety and well-being in the quest to keep the human race alive and vital.

How physical does the movie get for you?

Perlman: It ends up being quite physical in the third act, quite physical. But clearly, there's a contrast, a stark contrast, to my character and the character that Thomas Jane plays, Sgt. Mitch Hunter. He's a born soldier and a career soldier who has no particular allegiances to anything other than being a soldier. So his relationship to the warrior mentality is far more articulated, comes to him with far more ease than Brother Samuel's. Brother Samuel is kind of thrust into this action mode, and he does the best he can with what he has. ...

What's the word on Hellboy III?

Perlman: I haven't heard any words on Hellboy III. I know that [Hellboy director] Guillermo [del Toro] has turned his attention to the Hobbit movies. The dust is just settling from the release of Hellboy II, so I would imagine that the answer to that question lies down the road a piece as well.

Does he have a role for you in The Hobbit?

Perlman: I don't know.