Dont get Ron Perlman started on Donald Trump.
I grew up in New York, says the 68-year-old actor, whose latest film, The Escape of Prisoner 614, opens April 27 in theaters and On Demand. Trump is the quintessential Howard Stern guest, because all he wants to do is lower the bar. Hes been a joke all my life.
Joke or not, Trump is a constant on Perlmans entertaining Twitter feed, which is filled with pithy comments and retweets about the reality TV host-turned-president, as well as right-wing bloviators like Sean Hannity.
When, for example, Hannity tweeted that Trump attorney/fixer Michael Cohen never represented him in any manner, Perlmans response was, Similarly I never stuck it only half in, and I never put the checks I wrote him in the male [sic]. And when another Twitter user questioned if a regular Fox commentator like Alan Dershowitz would admit he had been played by Hannity after the latter confessed his relationship with the presidents attorney, Perlmans fired off, Dersh should receive the BARs coveted Houdini award for his ability to tie himself up in knots and then mysteriously cheat reason and logic.
This kind of pedal-to-the-metal repartee seems to echo Perlmans professional work. He has long been noted for larger-than-life performances in films like Hellboy and TV shows like Sons of Anarchy. In The Escape of Prisoner 614, he plays an early-1960s small-town New York State Sheriffa blowhard who refuses to believe a black prisoner might be innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Im interested in that moment in time regarding racial profiling, Perlman tells The Daily Beast. It was 55 years ago, and we havent moved a fucking inch. The movie deals with that in a way thats entertaining, and hits the spot without hitting it on the head.
Perlman is nothing if not forthright. And when you start asking him about the Trump administration, his responses tend to take no prisoners.
For example, he mentioned that he was recently at a press junket when someone asked him if he was interested in playing Trump in a film. His answer was blunt to the max: Fuck no, Perlman responded. Not interested in one-dimensional people who have no redeeming value and nothing that is psychologically compelling.
When I asked if maybe there were actually some psychological issueshis insecurity, his braggadocio, his compulsive lyingthat actually made Trump interesting, Perlman stood his ground. Ive played serial killers and real bad guys, and there is always some sort of psychological gap there, he said. Trump doesnt possess any of them. Hes just a cardboard cutout piece of shitfuck. Theres nothing there to explore. Hes one-dimensional, and hes not clever. Hed be very boring to play.
Perlman takes the same approach when he assesses the presidents tenure in office thus far. Is there anything in particular thats the worst thing hes done? Hes normalized things that are unconscionable, says Perlman. A cap on the free press, his lying. He lies every time he speaks, and hes desensitized us to what a lie and the truth is. There is nothing to teach our children to aspire to, the ideals that are truly American. Hes got it all muddled. Hes supporting Nazis, he supports all of the things that autocrats support, destroying the credibility of the free press. Hes managing to speak to the lowest form of discourse. And hes parlayed this into this hold he has on the GOP, and shown there is no patriotism in the GOP. Hes represented a time in our history that has degraded one of the great civilizations in history.
The same goes for his cabinet choices. Its not just that there are one or two bad ones, its the whole group. I wish there was just one [bad one], says Perlmam. It seems for him the only way to maintain full control is to tear down everything that exists. The head of the EPA, he puts in a guy who protects polluters. The Treasury is supposed to protect the economy, and the guy he names protects the one-percent. Housing, hes got this fucking idiot, I dont know if hes asleep or awake. Education, Betsy DeVos, she has no idea what shes doing.
Yet Perlman refuses to condemn the voters who still support Trump. He doesnt want to put down individuals, probably because he understands why these folks voted for the orange-haired one in the first place. I think hes tapped into an unhappiness people have with their lives, says Perlmam. It goes to globalismthis outsourcing that takes place, you have to have an advanced degree to compete. A lot of people have been left out of the American dream, and when someone says Im gonna bring it back, Im gonna make America great again, even if hes lying to them, they believe him.
Perlman also takes a fairly nuanced approach when it comes to the juicy scandal du jourthat involving porn star Stormy Daniels. As far as Trump is concerned, he always feels like everyone is always out for a buck, and everyone can be bought, says Perlman. But when he goes beyond the original [non-disclosure] agreement, then hes crossed the line, and that makes her look good, regardless of what her motives are. And when you are as crafty as Stormy is, and as crafty as her lawyer is, you start controlling the conversation.
Still, its a long time till the November midterms, and anything can happen in the interim. What if, hypothetically, Trump actually works out a denuclearization deal with the North Koreans, and when the election rolls around, the country is also booming economically. Does this mean trouble for the Democrats? Nixon opened up China, but that didnt negate the fact that he was performing criminal acts, Perlman offers. I dont care what Trump does in North Korea or Syria. The genie is out of the bottle for the high crimes and misdemeanors hes committed, and it seems the case is going well. Im banking on that.
Yet theres a question that begs to be asked: With all the chaos in the administration, is this a sign that the president is really an idiot, or is he a master media manipulator whose inconsistencies are deliberate, designed to keep his enemies in a reactiverather than proactiveposition?
Perlmans two cents are typically, uh, Perlmanesque: I dont give a shit. Any time you ask a question like that it makes him look good, even though he stomps on things like decency and compassion. I dont give a fuck; he is what he is, and whats he doing to influence decency, compassion, love, inclusion. I dont give a fuck what you say about his victories. We need someone our kids can look up to.