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The Real Reason Ron Perlman Stopped Looking For His Dream Role - Exclusive

Ron Perlman has been a fixture on screens both big and small for about 30 years. Though he tends to play tough guys — much like his role of Preston in the new flick The Big Ugly — he's played a little bit of everything. During Looper's interview with him, we took some time to ask about what kind of roles he likes to play and where he sees his career going.

We know that he's still interested in a third Hellboy movie, and we know that he has some interesting upcoming projects with Guillermo del Toro. But what about something totally new? Any roles he's itching to try? "I'm looking to play everything," admits Perlman. He calls himself the "recipient of so many pleasant surprises that you never see coming."

But as for a specific role, or even a specific kind of character, the actor's wishlist will always be a rough draft. "I'm a big dreamer and I've always had big dreams," he says, before acknowledging that "the roles that I actually ended up playing I could never have dreamed big enough to have included those things." He no longer needs to seek out the next big landmark. "I stopped looking for something that's going to top everything else, because it keeps happening."

His philosophy comes out of Carlos Castenda's book The Teachings of Don Juan, "where the basic takeaway of the thing is just relax and pay attention. That's all I'm doing these days, is just relaxing and paying attention."

What Perlman likes in a role

Even with his desire to play "everything," there's still a certain sense about what counts as a "Ron Perlman role." Many fans picture a tough, off-kilter guy who is the top dog in most situations. Hellboy, Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, even Hannibal Chau in Pacific Rim to an extent.

Of course, such characters hardly prove a challenge to Perlman. "It's much easier," he says, "to play characters who are calling the shots because you have the final word rather than the recipient of something that you maybe don't believe in, but have to do anyway." He notes that "it's scary when you play somebody who is not in control," but challenging parts are "where the fun of it is."

He calls the role of Judge Pernell Harris in The Hand of God "one of the more scary, uncomfortable, challenging things I had done." The character was "emotionally out of control for the whole three seasons" — quite a feat to maintain as an actor. "He had all the trappings of power and yet zero control because God was using him as the recipient of some sort of strange, weird Apache dance."

Another such role is Preston in The Big Ugly, a character who is "a lot of different things that don't go together — and yet, they do." He's the top dog at his company but his son is too chaotic and stubborn to control. Catch the movie at selected theaters, drive-ins, and VOD.