On the FX Network drama Sons of Anarchy, actor Ron Perlman plays Clarence “Clay” Morrow, SAMCRO’s ruthless president, one of its founding members and step-father to Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), with whom he often has a volatile relationship. In Season 3, all personal issues will be put aside, as every member of the motorcycle club puts their focus on finding Abel, Jax’s infant son who was kidnapped at the end of last season. A family drama at its heart, this deeply emotional journey cannot end well for those responsible.
During a recent interview, Ron Perlman talked about playing an anti-hero, bringing the humanity out in his often unlikeable character and how he enjoy exploring a character over the course of a series. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Ron: Clay’s journey is the same as the club’s journey. The task of the day is to get the kid back. The kid has been kidnapped, so all individual notions and impulses have to be shelved. It’s all hands on deck until we get the kid back. As opposed to Season 1 and part of Season 2, where we were setting the agenda, the agenda has been set for us now, and we are following leads, and obsessively and unrestingly trying to find the kid and answer this horrific violation.
This show manages to make heroes out of these characters that are normally villains because they kill people and deal in weapons and drugs. Do you feel that there is a line you can’t cross, in terms of what these characters can do, so that you avoid turning the audience off to them?
Ron: I think that these guys are fighting for the life that they envision for themselves, and they have an incredibly well-articulated code of values that permeates its way through the whole family because it is a family. Its men and women, children and earners, caretakers and spenders. That’s essentially what is at the base of the thrust of this family drama.
We’re just fighting for the things that are going to make us have the lives we want to live, and no one is going to tell us what that life should or should not be. We make up our own rules. The things that are essentially universal in our code are loyalty and sacrifice. Those are things that are interesting to watch on any level, whether they’re fraught with big dynamics or small dynamics. In this instance, because we’re outlaws and we’re always walking on this tightrope, they’re big dynamics.
Ron: It’s funny because I go back and look at the pilot episode and my character was pretty one-dimensional because I was obsessed with introducing him and who he was. And then, you get Episode 2 delivered to you and you read it and go, “I guess this gig is not a one-off, like a movie.” The blessing of doing a television show is that, with the benefit of time, you get to layer and nuance the guy. A lot of the time, it’s being done for you by what he’s situationally doing in each episode we find him in, all the way up to sitting at the dinner table and listening to his wife say that she’s been gang raped and reacting to that.
You’re constantly being challenged. You already know the facade and you have the infrastructure of the guy, but the beauty of doing a TV show where you truly get to explore character for the amount of time that God has given us – three seasons now – is phenomenal for an actor because you’re finding out things about him, simply because of what Kurt is handing you to do, that you didn’t know he had. Then you say, “Yeah, I can fit that color in without violating the infrastructure. I can find that place, somewhere in the depths of his soul, that is something that he answers to and deeply aware of.”
Ron: The luxury of television is that you get more than one shot at who you think the guy is that you’re playing. Now, we’re almost through three seasons and there are just these colors to this character that are being revealed to me even as we speak, and it’s a beautiful thing. You put your hand to your heart and make some choices, build a backstory to who you think this guy was or is, and try to figure out how he got to be who he is. In this instance, we get to explore so many different facets of characters because of the luxury of time that we’ve been given that sometimes you’re finding out things about him that you weren’t aware existed, and you have to figure out ways to fold it into that big overview of the character.
The lack of Emmy recognition, despite all the critical praise and the high ratings, is very perplexing. How do you feel about that situation?
Ron: Fuck ‘em.
At Comic-Con this year, Guillermo Del Toro said that he definitely wants to revisit Hellboy again and do another film. Is that something you’d be willing to do?
Ron: I had not heard that. If he revisits it, I hope I’m alongside him for it.
SONS OF ANARCHY returns for Season 3 on FX on September 7th