(Excerpts from a Ron Perlman interview by Ian Spelling on the set of "Star Trek: Nemesis" for STAR TREK magazine.)
Character actor Ron Perlman once again slaps on the heavy prosthetics to portray Star Trek Nemesis' key villain this winter, the Reman Viceroy. A shady character in more ways than one, Perlman's bad guy is one of the driving forces in the next Star Trek film, and he gets to swop blows with old pal Jonathan Frakes too!
"It's cool," Ron Perlman enthuses. "It's cool to be involved with Star Trek. It's a great franchise."
Perlman's physical appearance might scare anyone not visiting a sound stage. He looks like a tall, fearsome cross between Nosferatu and a Cenobite (for those devotees of the Hellraiser films), and he's clad in a form-fitting black and mother-of-pearl-ish costume.
Perlman will need to step back before the camera soon, but he agrees to chat for a few minutes during a lighting change.
"It doesn't seem to let much oxygen in in a pinch, so I'm breathing out of my mouth and nose and not much else," Perlman says of his Viceroy visage.
"I can't take it off until the end of the day. It takes a couple of hours to put on and the days have been anywhere between 12 and 17 hours, no less than 12 and probably close to 15 on average."
As for the outfit, "I have almost no mobility in it," he adds. "Almost everything I do I'm fighting the costume. This is a very unique exercise in pacing yourself, and I come up short every day. Every night I go home whipped, really whipped."
Perlman may be whipped, but he's also quite confident that the pay-off will be a character that's at once fully formed and otherworldly. In fact, Perlman refuses to grouse much about the make up or the costume, and for a very understandable reason.
"I'm no stranger to having the externals dictate what I do internally," says the actor.
"There's no way you can create a character like this until you're actually in the get-up and look at yourself in the mirror," he says."That basically is the first clue as to what he walks like, talks like and what his mindset is, and that dictates everything else. So you do some generalized homework about the guy's circumstances, but you really have to wait until everybody puts on you what it is they're putting on you to create what is not human, but an abstraction."
"The Viceroy is very mysterious, very unarticulated. He's like an iceberg. You can only see one-eighth of him, and I like that. I like playing what's not seen, what's not explained. My attraction to this was that they asked me. And it flowed from there.
"Every job has its own appeal," points out Perlman, who's due next opposite Charles Durning, Carol Kane and Oliver Hudson in the comedy-drama G-S.P.O.T., then in the Roger Corman action flick Shakedown, and who also hopes to direct a feature in the near future. "I've never really thought about a job in terms of genre. I've thought about it in terms of each individual case as it came. One tries to use all the colours on the palette. Whenever I see an opportunity to play something I don't believe I've ever played before and I feel I have the ability to do it, and I can connect with the character in some way, that's the attraction."
When asked if he would be interested in reprising his role in the next ST:TNG feature, assuming his character survives, Perlman replies,"Well the cool thing is, I could be in the next Star Trek movie and nobody would know it was me. But no, I would rather do this one this one time. I've played a lot of characters that I could play for a lifetime. This one I would prefer to do as a one-shot."