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8:25 am - Mon 3/5/04
The Asymmetrical Face Of A Character Actor

The Asymmetrical Face Of A Character Actor

Weds 3/31/04 (11:25 p.m.)

Reading an online article about Ron Perlman and Hellboy, I was struck by what Perlman had to say about his looks:

"I've always felt there were aspects of me that were monstrous, and you can either hide from it or confront it, embrace it and understand that those are aspects that make you unique and define you and motivate you. You can be overwhelmed or overcompensate for them -- but they truly define you as a human being."

Perlman has finally come to grips with his inner beast, but this peace appears to have come after years of struggling with his self-image.

Aspects of his looks that he felt were "monstrous," "were troublous enough in my psyche that they became encompassing, to the degree where they affected my every thought, the way I composed myself, the way I carried myself. So that life became a question of dealing with this monstrousness in one way or another," he says. "One finds a way to understand and make friends with that monster and understand that that's the very thing that makes you who you are. That's your emotional and spiritual fingerprint."

It turned out that acting was the key to dealing with his self-image.

Ironically, the one thing that the experience has taught the actor is that there's a beast inside most of us -- or at least the people that Perlman is most interested in.

"I don't think I'm any worse than anybody else on earth because of these aspects of myself that are hideous," he says. "I think the only people I'm interested in are those that are in touch with their monstrousness. I'm not interested in guys who walk with a swagger and think that they own the world and that they're entitled to better things or more things than I am because they have nothing wrong with them. I'm not interested in those people -- those people bore me."

I relate to much of that...

I don't know that I think of myself as "monstrous" in the looks department, but I'm obviously too flawed, too asymmetrical, to be considered "good looking", and I have had to "deal" with that (To be more accurate, let's say I'm continuing to deal with that).

Honestly, that's probably the thing that kept me away from trying to act professionally for so long; I knew there was a huge chasm between what I wanted to do as an actor, what I knew I had in me, and what I was going to be allowed to do, all because of the outside package. And I didn't think I could handle that.

But over time, I thought to myself, "Well Jim, what's the alternative? Doing nothing?".

At some level, I'll never get over not getting to be the hero, not getting to save the day, not getting the girl. Not getting to be commanding, sexy, etc and so forth. That stuff is in my head, in my heart, with nowhere to go, in acting or in "real life".

But while there's a load of stuff I'm never going to be asked to do, that doesn't mean I'm never going to get to do anything fun. My childhood dreams of acting were not about playing freaks and weirdos and assorted losers, but that said, those roles do have a certain appeal.

And the issue kind of became, over the years, not so much "Can I handle never being the lead?", but "Would any kind of acting career be better than what I've got now?".

And the answer to that question was a definite "Yes. Yes, I believe it would".

That was something Daniel C. and I talked about some time back...

Both of us are not where we want to be. He's writing film music that's been used in some commercials, and I'm auditioning for commercials, a couple of which I've booked, when what he really wants is to write scores for film and tv, and what I really want is to act (I have an old fashioned view of commercials--Not that I'm "too good" to do them, but that it's not what I really want to do, and I'd like to get to a point where I don't have to).

We want to achieve our goals, but agreed that if as far as we ever got was to be able to make a living from

our commercial work, that would be better than where we're at.

That's basically "the next plateau" for me--the goal/dream for the next part of my life is to be making a living from commercial work, on my off days be auditioning, and doing plays at night.

I'd be disappointed if that's as far as things ever progressed, but it would still be an improvement.

A big improvement.

(There are "issues" that come with that "plateau"--insecurity, loneliness, etc--but that's stuff for another entry.)

But I believe I will progress beyond that "plateau" of being a commercial actor. I've got an intersting "look", I've got an undeniable charisma/talent, and probably most importantly, I'm not going away.

This asymmetrical, "interesting-looking" actor is not going anywhere till he gets some interesting-looking, asymmetrical roles!

But right now, I need to shoot off to the bank, to cash the big Hyundai check that finally came in Saturday's mail.



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