Guillermo del Toro fought 7 years for Ron Perlman to star as Hellboy
Before actor Ron Perlman played the titular role in Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 unconventional superhero flick Hellboy, he was a typecast character actor, successful but with little hopes of ascending to leading man status. Luckily for Perlman, del Toro had a very specific vision for the film, with Perlman front and center.
“I said to him from the get-go, ‘That’s a great idea and god bless you, I love you for entertaining the idea, but it’ll never happen,'” Perlman says in the latest episode of PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing, recalling his disbelief that he’d ever excite studios enough to be cast. “Sure enough, for seven years he’d go to these meetings at these studios, and he’d say, ‘Ron Perlman.'”
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Although the studios weren’t initially interested in Perlman, del Toro’s success after Blade II in 2002 afforded him some leverage.
“Blade II opened to like $40 million on the first weekend, and everybody wanted to do Guillermo’s next movie, and he said to himself, ‘If I’m ever going to get Hellboy done with Ron, it’s going to be this week,'” Perlman says. “Sure enough, somebody said to him, ‘How do I get in the Guillermo del Toro business?’ and he said, ‘Well, I really want to do this movie Hellboy.’ They say, ‘Any conditions?’ and he says, ‘Yeah, Ron Perlman,’ and they go, ‘Hmmm… Okay.'”
Perlman also revealed that his favorite moment throughout the two Hellboy films came from a scene in Hellboy II: The Golden Army in which Hellboy and Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) get drunk on Tecate beer and sing “Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow. It was definitely not what audiences expected from the superhero sequel, but del Toro is nothing but daringly unpredictable.
Check out the full clip above for more.