Ron Perlman’s career is full of characters who could be considered good or bad depending — as the actor puts it — on whether you look at the roles with a “half-empty” or “half-full” perspective. The roles include the title character in the “Hellboy” films and Clay Morrow in the TV series “Sons of Anarchy.”
His latest addition to complicated characters is in “Asher,” where he plays a world-weary hit man who realizes there may still be a spark of humanity still burning deep inside him.
“I think Asher is doing the best with what he can, which means he’s a ‘half-full’ kind of guy,” Perlman says. “I think that he is somebody who has gotten to spend his life doing something he does quite well … as long as you chose not to judge the profession that he does.
“I think what he’s able to do, considering he made certain decisions that limits the scope of his happiness, is that he’s making the best of it.”
Asher (Perlman) is a former Mossad agent who has spent most of his life as a gun for hire. He has a structured life challenged by the changing world around him. Things happening in Asher’s life surprise him, and surprises aren’t good in his line of work.
As he begins to near the end of his career, Asher breaks the oath he took as a young man when he meets Sophie (Famke Janssen) during a hit that goes wrong. The only way he can have love in his life before it’s too late is to change into the man he wants to be.
Perlman liked Asher the moment he read the script by Jay Zaretsky because the role reminded him of antiheroes featured in the ’60s and ’70s. Those movies didn’t paint the world in black-and-white terms but featured characters who were more ambiguous. That’s why Perlman spent five years fighting to get “Asher” made.
“There are so many times with Asher where if he goes down a certain road, then he has to think what the implications will be,” Perlman says. “He has to balance his life with all these new sensations and that’s what you see acted out in front of you for an hour and 38 minutes.”
Perlman has been working for decades to perfect his acting skills to play complicated characters. The New York native started as a stage actor but made his move to film in 1981 with “Quest for Fire.” It was the television series “Beauty and the Beast” that showed off his ability to be both a leading man and a figure to be feared. The role earned him the 1989 Golden Globe award in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama category.
His film credits include “Blade II,” “Pacific Rim,” “Alien: Resurrection” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.” Perlman has bounced between TV and films with ease because his acting remains the constant.
“I love acting. I love playing characters. You don’t change anything about your skill set because one is TV and one is film. They are both identical approaches,” Perlman says. “The truth of it is for movies like ‘Asher,’ you are almost shooting a TV kind of schedule that are very fast shooting five to seven pages a day to get everything done.
“With ‘Asher’ it was the same thing because it was a very low-budget film. You get used to working at a certain clip and I happen to be OK with working fast. By performances in the first, second or third takes are the best. After that it gets studied and repetitive.”
Along with his appreciation of fast pacing, Perlman describes working in television as a luxury because an actor gets more than one shot to find all the colors to the character.
The cast of “Asher” also includes Famke Janssen (“The Blacklist”), Richard Dreyfuss (“Jaws”), Peter Facinelli (“Twilight”) and Jacqueline Bisset (“Murder on the Orient Express”), directed by Michael Caton-Jones. “Asher” opens in selected theaters and will be available through video on demand and Digital HD Friday.