My Ron Perlman Adventure
by Patti Helps

I just had the experience of a lifetime at the Toronto International Film Festival (tiff)!

A few weeks ago I tried valiantly to get tickets to the Bunraku premier at tiff. When I finally got through online, I was shocked and heartbroken that the movie was SOLD OUT!!! I live in Ontario, Canada and this had been the only time that he was going to be close enough to me that I was able to go.

At the same time, my 18 year old niece Sarah moved from rural Ontario to Toronto to go to college. She was lonely and overwhelmed. So, I decided that I would do double duty and go to Toronto spend the weekend with her and drag her along on my "Ron Perlman Adventure!"

Keep in mind that I was going to tiff with no assurance that Ron was going to be there and with no tickets to the sold out movie. I went there with no expectations other than to enjoy the adventure. I hoped for the best but was prepared for the worst. I must say that this is totally out of character for me. I am a very grounded woman, happily married for 25 years. But I had just finished a 5 year stretch of some very grown up stuff and had noticed that somewhere along the line I had stopped dreaming and stopped embracing life with zest. I went to do something uncharacteristically impulsive and life affirming. I hope you enjoy my story.

Here's the timeline and the story of my adventure:

Saturday, September 11, 2010
8:30 pm

Sarah & I arrive at the theater. There is a line forming that is called the "Rush" line (I have no idea why they call it that). This rush line is for people who do not have tickets but are hoping to get in. Once the ticket holders go in, the staff count the empty seats and then allow that many people from the Rush line to come in and purchase a ticket. It was a long shot at best that we would get a ticket. I had prepared myself that I probably wouldn't get in.

The atmosphere was very exciting. There was the actual red carpet, velvet rope, the back drop that the stars stand in front of and get their pictures taken etc. Seeing that began to increase my hope that Ron was really coming. I had asked a few of the staff if Ron had been confirmed and all of them said that he was still listed as a "maybe".

9:30 pm
"Was that rain I felt?" Oh ya! It started to rain...and then it started to pour...for 2 hours straight. I was dripping wet. However, what seemed like a negative, turned into a positive for me. Because of the heavy rain, many of the not so diehard fans left, which moved us forward in the Rush line.

By this point, the excitement is starting to stir. The paparazzi has arrived and the staff are starting to stir up the crowd while the paparazzi take their pictures. I decided to take a little wander to try and see what was going on. I left Sarah in line and walked up to the red carpet. I was standing on the side walk when 2 feet away from me a black Towncar rolls up beside me. The rear window was cracked open about 8 inches. I look over and I see this silver gray hair and a cigar. I nearly died on the spot! There was Ron Perlman 2 feet away from me and I had no one around me. I gave him a little wave then thought to myself, "I'm about to get the picture of a lifetime!!!" I no sooner had that thought run through my mind when a staff member with a headset on approached the car and said,
"Hey Ron! How are you? We're not quite ready for you so could you drive around for a bit then come back?" Next thing I he drives. I stood there with my mouth open wondering how that could have just happened. It gave new meaning to the phrase, "So close and yet so far".

However, I now knew for sure that Ron had come!!! And I saw him (sort of). Everything else after that was just going to be gravy.

Here he comes!!! I'm ready!!! Then I'm somewhat squeezed out by "handlers" and police. I did manage to get a picture of him getting out of the car. Then off he goes down the red carpet and standing in front of the backdrop truly looking like a movie star. I took some more pictures. It was really exciting. I could hardly believe it was happening.

Then the other stars arrived (not nearly as exciting).

So, I rushed back to Sarah in line. She was bursting to tell me that before his car rolled up to where I was, he had sat right in front of her for several minutes.

The ticket holders are allowed to come in. Once they are seated, the empty seats are counted. Drum roll please.........

A staff member comes out and says, "We can take in 20 people" then they started counting....I was holding my breath as they counted Sarah as #19 & me as #20!!! I couldn't believe it!!! She and I screamed and jumped up and down. Then we marched in to claim our seats. I walked into the air conditioned movie theater soaking wet and cold and just stood there for a minute taking in the fact that I was in the same room as Ron Perlman watching the same movie. It was freaky and wonderful at the same time. I thought to myself, "It can't get any better than this!" but I was wrong. By the way, the movie was the most unique thing I'd ever seen. It took me a little while to adjust but once I did, I loved it. Ron was compelling and hot.

Movie over. SURPRISE!!! The director and cast come on stage for a Q&A! How cool was that?? VERY COOL! Once it was over I thought to myself, "the only thing I haven't gotten to do that I had set as a goal was to meet him." So, I asked the person with the headset where we should go if we want the best chance to meet Ron. She said that she had been listening over the radio and that he had not yet been loaded into the limo so she told me where to find the door they would be exiting.

There were about 75 people milling around the door. There were police keeping certain areas clear. On each side of the door there was a metal railing. Sarah & I positioned ourselves on the right side right by the door. There was only one person in front of me. Even being the second person in I knew that I would not have a good chance to get an autograph (I had brought an 8X10 picture of Ron in front of a Hellboy poster and a Sharpie pen just in case) but I thought if I timed it right I could at least get a good picture of him.

The first star out of the door was Woody Harrelson. He was a big disappointment to the fans. Remember these were primarily Canadian fans. Very reserved and polite. His fans held out their autograph books and he just walked right past everyone. Never stopped. Never signed an autograph. Never even acknowledge anyone.

Suddenly, the guy who was standing in front of me who was right up against the railing turned to me and said, "Woody was the only one I was here to see. Do you want my spot?" Again, for about the third time that night, I nearly died! I was going to get my autograph!!!! I handed my camera over to Sarah and got out my picture and took the cap off my Sharpie and waited. My heart was pounding in my chest. I was so excited.

I heard the guy who was in charge of opening the door say, "Here comes Ron". Ron came out the door and went to sign some autographs on the other side. I was afraid he was going to just keep going by and I decided I had come too far to have him slip away without me meeting him. So I started saying real loud, "Ron...pleeeeaaase come over here and sign my picture!! I waited 2 hours in the pouring rain to see you. PLEASE!!" He turned around and tried to find me in the crowd on my side, I waved my arms and said "I'm over here!" He started to laugh and came right over to me...I nearly died! I thanked him so much for doing this for me. Then he looked at me and smiled while he handed me back my Sharpie and said, "God bless you!" I thanked him profusely! Sarah got the best picture of him signing my picture with a little smile on his face.

It was one of those moments that your mind goes into slow motion and your thoughts separate. There's the me who was engaging Ron and then there was the me who was screaming in my head "OMG! I can't believe this is happening!!!" The whole time he was in front of me, I was looking down at the picture he was signing. When he handed me back the Sharpie and looked me right in the eye and talked to me, it was the first time that I actually looked at him (I mean really looked). It nearly took my breath away and kind of startled me. He's way bigger and more imposing than I expected. His eyes are piercing blue. The contrast of his bright silver hair, reddish complexion and those bright blue eyes is stunning. His head and hands are very large (but not disproportionate to his body). He truly looks like a movie star. There are no pictures (including my own) that actually captures how imposing he is.

Then he walked away into the night!

It was the most fun, exciting experience I'd had in a long time. The whole experience was way beyond what I had expected. I was so happy that Ron was so much more gracious and classy with his fans than Woody had been.

Footnote: Sarah could not believe that I could lure Ron over and get his autograph. As soon as Ron was gone she rushed up to me and said, "Can you do that again when Josh Hartnett comes out?" (apparently Josh Hartnett is more appealing to an 18 year old than Ron...go figure???) So, I got another piece of paper and my Sharpie, resumed my position and proceeded to do the same thing with Josh. Over he came after I pleaded and told him I'd been standing in the rain for 2 hours. I thanked him very much for being so kind to come over. He was very sweet to me as well. Sarah got this killer close up picture of him. When I got done, I turned around and there was Sarah, totally thrilled and shocked at what had just happened. She had to agree that I was the coolest aunt ever :)

Sarah and Patti

At the end of the weekend, I was exhausted but totally satisfied. I had had a great time with my niece and reclaimed my zest for life. I have no idea if Ron ever reads this stuff on the perlmanpages but if you are reading this Ron, I just want to thank you for making my day. You're a sweet man!

Patti with the photo Ron signed for her.

More premiere pics here.

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