Sunday offered a plethora of panels with a variety of characters, and I had the privilege of sitting in on two of them. The first was Dr. Who star David Tennant and the second was the original live-action Hellboy Ron Perlman. They’re across the spectrum from each other in personality and tone, but entertaining nonetheless. Let’s dive in!
And, again, a big shout-out to Pop Culture Classroom for helping make this event happen!
David entered and exited to a standing ovation, which may have been a credit to the world he helped reestablish as much as he himself, but nevertheless, there are few I’ve seen get that kind of warm reception.
He Scottish charisma dominates the stage as he embraces the crowd and holds them with his allure.
Unlike celebrity guests who confess they hadn’t read or watched the respective subject material before signing on for a role, or admitting they were an “abstract fan” of the source material beforehand, David made it sound like it was more of a childhood dream come true to play the Doctor. The Doctors he grew up with were his idols. So to be a part of that fraternity is a genuine privilege, and not merely another role that has escalated into a cult following.
His aspiration was not to break the character. His respect for the role went as far as to be a stress for the sake of the responsibility of the character. And when it blew up, it was surreal.
Upon being asked what it was like seeing an action figure of yourself, he responded: “It tickles a weird part of your ego. I don’t know how healthy it is…but it’s great!”
When asked, “what is your best work?” He stuttered through the question…only to jokingly admit that he was “raised presbyterian, so he’s [swathed] in guilt [and self-criticism].”
Soon after a fan blurted out “Purple Man (his role in Jessica Jones)!” To which he quickly replied, “I’ll let the crowd decide!” And they erupted into applause.
He then briefly discussed the heart of playing a villain, that there is a level of processing them and humanizing them. That from their perspective, they are “just working through some issues” and that’s why “people end up becoming monsters”.
Has he ever been starstruck by anyone?
After some thought, he responded, “Billy Connolly. I didn’t know how to be around him. And he didn’t disappoint in iota.”
When prompted on Maggie Smith to the same question, he responded, “she’s intimidating…” then said, “there’s nothing more delicious than Maggie Smith in a witch’s hat.” For a good laugh.
David was eventually brought to the topic of Good Omens, a mini series releasing soon that is based off of a novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. David mentioned that Gaiman was present nearly every day of the shoot, having served as the writer and showrunner for the production. David recalled jokingly, “They’re still filming! I finished [my role] 6 months ago, and they’re still filming!” He then seemingly segued to his prediction on why that is, saying, “it’s massive.”
And we’ll end with this tidbit…”What’s your favorite Dr. Who episode?”
“Every episode was so different to shoot. It feels like choosing between children…and I try not to do that!”
The Good Omens series is set to be released in 2019 on Amazon Prime.
The gruff, intimidating, sarcastic and candid Perlman owned his stage during his panel, refusing to hold any opinion back from the beginning. His presence matches that of his characters; enthralling, engaging and unapologetic. Perlman was perhaps the most brutally honest of any celebrity I’ve yet seen, evidenced most plainly by his opening comments:
“There are some empty seats up there. More empty than Trump’s inauguration…not quite as empty as his policies, though.”
When asked in regards to many of his first roles having a lot of creature work and make-up, Perlman admitted there wasn’t a lot of design in the first 25 years of his career. He then joked about his audition for Quest for Fire...looking around the room and seeing a guy with an arm sticking out of his neck, another guy who is 7′ 14″…you really just had to not be terminal.
And in response specifically to playing these creature roles like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and Hellboy, Perlman said in his natural sarcastic tone…”In order to get made up for those roles, you have to sit and do nothing for 4 hours…and what I love to do more than anything is sit and do nothing.”
He then recalled a scenario during the second season of Beauty and the Beast, in which he was in a rare moment in which he wasn’t in full make-up while on set. And while he was putting spread on a bagel, he overheard two crew members “talking shit” about him, not knowing it was him right there next to them!
And, of course, Perlman’s role in Chronos with Guillermo del Toro at the helm had to be brought up:
“It wouldn’t have been greenlit in the US,” he said, “The US is famous for repeating itself, especially the last 30 years.
The movie on paper was a vampire movie, but it was so much more…[allegorical for the human condition and aging].
del Toro [uses] genre to juxtapose with the human condition. He’s one of our more important artists. [To be del Toro], you must be ruthless…say no to the system..balance between artistry and filling seats.”
When asked who his favorite historical figure is, his response was two-fold: “I’m about to play Hemingway…he’s like an onion with so many layers pulled back every time I look into him,” and “[I’d have to go with] Bob Dylan…favorite historical figure.”
And we’ll end with this…when a question began with the following statement, “You play a lot of big, violent guys-“, Perlman interrupted and blurted out, “What the fuck am I going to play?” And stood up and flexed towards the crowd.
And that’s Ron Perlman.