BLAZING A TRAIL
Get your motor running and head out on the highway with the Sons of Anarchy. Guy Davis was priviliged – and a little bit frightened – to get special access to Ron Perlman’s new club.
CAST Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Maggie Siff SUMMARY Hellboy Hellboy’s demon Ron Perlman Ron Perlman is is enjoying enjoying exploring exploring a diff another erent underworld with Sons of Anarchy – the a new new pay-payTV drama TV looking drama at looking the bikie-at gang the bikie-subculture. gang
It’s perfect casting, really. I mean, if you were looking for someone to play the ruthless, no-nonsense leader of a motorcycle gang, imposing character actor Ron Perlman would have to pretty high on your list.
First of all, the star of the Hellboy movies ( and the short-lived but much-loved TV series Beauty and the Beast) just looks like the kind of guy who could take apart an adversary without breaking a sweat.
And when he speaks, his rumbling growl has a tinge of menace to it.
But appearances can be deceiving. Sure, Perlman looks and sounds tough – and he most likely is – but there’s also a soulful quality to his acting that lends depth and dimension to his characters, even gun- running bikies like Clay Morrow, the gang leader he plays in the new pay-TV series Sons of Anarchy.
Created by Kurt Sutter, an executive producer on the gritty police drama The Shield, the series follows the exploits of the Sons of Anarchy, a California motorcycle club that operates outside the law and lives by its own rules.
But times are changing for the gang, with rival outfi ts muscling in on its territory and the law cracking down.
What’s more, Jax ( Charlie Hunnam), the second-in-command and the son of the gang’s late founder, has started to uncover some long-hidden secrets about the Sons of Anarchy’s history.
With the second Hellboy movie having performed well at the box offi ce and several movie off ers on the table, Perlman wasn’t really considering a television project when Sutter approached him about playing Clay.
But he had “ an inordinate amount of respect” for The Shield so he agreed to meet Sutter, listen to some ideas and read a script.
“ There was no refusing it after that,” said Perlman. “ I went instantly to ‘ Who have I got to kill to play this guy?’”
Luckily, no homicide was necessary as Perlman joined his fellow cast members in getting a crash course in the bikie-gang subculture.
The actor admits to having “ a onedimensional view” of motorcycle clubs before joining Sons of Anarchy, only to change his mind in the process.
From the disregard that greeted many bikies when they returned home from fi ghting in the Vietnam War, to the extremely organised hierarchy of a typical gang’s structure, Perlman was often astonished by what he found out.
“ Being thrust into this world and being made to understand how well-articulated it is when it comes to the traditions, the pecking order, the respect one has for the world one’s living in, the responsibilities a member has when it comes to contributing and carrying your weight, I’ve come to see it’s a real subculture and it’s one they take very seriously, as well they should,” he said.
Sutter spent a great deal of time with the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels in an eff ort to bring as much authenticity as possible to Sons of Anarchy.
“ He absorbed their rhythms and their values and their juxtaposition with other things societal because he was desperate to not just do a TV show but really get it right,” said Perlman.
And the Angels have responded favourably, travelling to the set to provide hands-on consultation and appear as extras.
Clubs like the Sons of Anarchy answer to no one, according to Perlman.
“ Being president of a club is tantamount to being president of a sovereign nation. So in that regard, my character Clay has a huge responsibility.
“ But there’s a vulnerability that comes into play because he has this great loyalty to the club and his fellow club members. He has a weak spot for his boys.”
So does Perlman, who admits that “ I have never gotten closer to a bunch of guys quicker than I have on this show”.
“ We spend 14 hours a day working on this show together and then everybody goes out for a beer afterwards,” he said.
““ There’s not one person in this group of players who sticks out because he’s a diva or he’s got his Hollywood ego going on – these are great guys. No one takes themselves seriously, everyone’s a degenerate.”
Blazing a trail: Ron Perlman ( left) and his Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club ( inset).