In this episode of the Wait Wait… In most of Ron Perlman’s well-known roles — in Quest for Fire, the TV show Beauty and the Beast and the Hellboy movies — he is so covered in makeup you don’t know what he looks like. Good thing we’ve invited him onto the radio where we can clear that right up!
Since Perlman famously played the Beast — as well as many other characters with unique visages — we’ll ask him three questions about beauty.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we take successful people and force them to talk to people like us. Ron Perlman is a unique actor in that most of his well-known roles, like the lead in “Quest For Fire,” the TV show “Beauty And The Beast,” the “Hellboy” movies – he’s so covered in extreme makeup, you don’t know what he looks like. And since we’re on the radio, you will still never find out. Ron Perlman, welcome to WAIT WAIT …DON’T TELL ME.
RON PERLMAN: Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you.
PERLMAN: Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of you that are clapping, thank you.
SAGAL: We found that that you have this extraordinarily loyal legion of female fans. And because – we know this because a while ago on the show we did a segment – a quiz segment about you in which it might have been perceived that we were casting some aspersions on your physical appearance.
PERLMAN: And what happened then?
SAGAL: They came after us like a mob of furies. It was crazy.
PERLMAN: Don’t mess with the Perl girls.
SAGAL: And I found out – oh, they call themselves Perl girls or Perls, right?
PERLMAN: I – yeah.
SAGAL: Yeah. Along this same line, I put on a question on twitter, I did not know your recent show “Sons Of Anarchy,” so I said, hey, everybody on Twitter, what episode should I watch to get some good Perlman action? And everybody wrote back with the same response, you should watch “Beauty And The Beast.” So I watched “Beauty And The Beast.” This is the show that you but did back in the ’80s where you were the beast. And this show, I found out, had an amazing effect on the young women of America.
PERLMAN: I couldn’t tell what age they were by the penmanship.
SAGAL: For those who don’t know, this is a show about this young woman in New York who meets in tragic instances, this strange creature. He looks like – kind of like a man-lion dressed for a Renaissance fair. His name is Vincent. And they have this – and that’s Ron, obviously. And they have this amazing and chased, at least for the beginning, romance. Why do you think women in particular responded so powerfully to that show?
PERLMAN: I think it was the fact that the relationship existed on a level that was not literal. It was very poetic. It needed to be poetic because, after all, these were two different species. And so we didn’t want to get into the realm of animal husbandry and all.
PERLMAN: I guess there’s something incredibly resonant about a longing that takes place in people for something that is – that is – that bypasses (unintelligible).
SAGAL: Were you – was that a dog yipping or were you doing Vincent for us?
PERLMAN: Oh, that was my dog. There was somebody at my door.
SAGAL: Oh, Jeez. Do you need to go get it, ’cause we can pause if you need to?
PERLMAN: Can you?
SAGAL: Yeah – we’ll – hey, man, you’re Hellboy, I’ll do anything for you.
PERLMAN: I think I have to pause. There’s a lot going on over here, can you hang on?
SAGAL: I can hang on.
PERLMAN: All right.
ALONZO BODDEN: I don’t know about you, I love this guy.
SAGAL: Yeah, yeah.
PERLMAN: Sorry about that.
SAGAL: That’s all right, man. You know, you were talking about “Beauty And The Beast” and…
PERLMAN: Why don’t we talk about “Sons Of Anarchy”? That’s a much funnier show.
SAGAL: That’s the one where you kill a lot of guy?
PERLMAN: There’s humor in mayhem.
SAGAL: There’s humor in mayhem, but we also notice that you appear as yourself without any makeup. One of the things you said is you got the role – or you were offered the role of beast is because you had – your first two big movie roles, which were “Quest For Fire” and “The Name Of The Rose,” you had a tremendous amount of prosthetic makeup and you were known as a guy who could deal with sitting in the chair while they put that on. So is there – I mean, cause you say that for…
PERLMAN: And those were, in fact, my only credentials.
SAGAL: That was it. Well, that guy, Perlman, he’ll sit there. Is there a trick for sitting in the chair?
PERLMAN: They said to me, could you sing happy birthday? I said no. They said, well, why don’t you tell a joke, we’ll see if you have any stage presence whatsoever. And that led to them saying, you know what, we’ll fix it in post. Just put the makeup on. It’ll only take you four and a half – five hours a day. No one will know you. Your own mother won’t know you.
MAZ JOBRANI: What do you do for four hours when they’re putting makeup on you?
PERLMAN: It depends on the gig. I mean, you know, “Hellboy” was Sinatra – Sinatra and Tom Waits. Margaret Baserra, who put on my makeup for “Beauty And The Beast” – she would alternate between watching “The Wizard Of Oz” while she was putting it on so that’s every day for nine months. Or…
SAGAL: Wait a minute. She would like watch the wizard – I mean, you do look a little bit like the cowardly lion. I doubt…
PERLMAN: And there’s a reason – there’s a reason for that.
SAGAL: Right. Did she ever slip?
PERLMAN: Now you know what it is.
SAGAL: Did she ever slip up and, oh my God, you came onto the set as the tin man? Damn.
PERLMAN: One time I ended up with straw coming out of my…
SAGAL: Yeah, I understand.
PERLMAN: And then she would alternate with listening to the soundtrack of “Les Miserables.”
SAGAL: Oh my God.
BODDEN: Ron, it’s Alonzo Bodden and I’m a big fan of Sons and now that you…
PERLMAN: You sound big Alonzo.
SAGAL: Yeah, he’s a big guy.
BODDEN: Yeah, I’m a big guy.
PERLMAN: Are you – you’re not mad at me, are you?
BODDEN: No, not in the least. Not in the least. I wouldn’t mess with Clay.
PERLMAN: I ain’t mad at you neither.
BODDEN: But my question is after the death of all those characters you did, when you got to Clay, when you got to be on Sons and some episodes it’s like, hey, you’re just just going to ride a motorcycle and shoot people, was that fun after, you know, the work you put into being an actor? Is it sometimes just fun to just let go and be a bad guy killing people?
SAGAL: I heard that for all your…
PERLMAN: You have the funnest questions, Alonzo.
BODDEN: Thank you.
SAGAL: Well, I’ll follow up Alonzo then. I heard that for all your riding around in “Sons Of Anarchy,” you actually don’t like riding motorcycles. Is that true?
PERLMAN: Yes – no, I don’t like riding a motorcycle. I am very uncomfortable on one and my proudest achievement as an actor – and I’ve chronicled this on many occasions, so why not again here – is that, you know, for six years I played the president of the bad ass motorcycle club in North America and I never got my bike out of second gear.
PERLMAN: Thank you very much. That’s acting right there.
SAGAL: That’s acting.
PERLMAN: That’s acting.
SAGAL: Particularly when you do that squinty thing as if you’re going really fast. Ron Perlman, what a pleasure to talk to you. We have asked you here today to play a game we’re calling…
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Why Mr. Perlman… You’re… You’re Beautiful.
SAGAL: Since you famously played the beast as well as many other characters with, shall we say, unique visages, we thought we’d ask you three questions about beauties. Get two out of three right and you’ll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell’s voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Ron Perlman playing for?
KURTIS: Emma Gernetzky of Cape Town, South Africa.
SAGAL: That’s far away.
PERLMAN: Emma, if you’re listening, I’m nervous.
SAGAL: All right.
PERLMAN: This is for you.
SAGAL: All right, here is your first question.
PERLMAN: I’m going to dig down deep. Go ahead, man. Hang on, let me take a deep breath. OK, go ahead.
SAGAL: Should I play some Les Mis, would that get you in the mood?
PERLMAN: No, but a little “Wizard of Oz” would.
SAGAL: OK, here’s your first question.
PERLMAN: (Barks like a dog).
SAGAL: I think.
JOBRANI: It’s the beast.
SAGAL: I think that if at any time during “Beauty And The Beast” if Vincent had made that noise…
PERLMAN: Put them up, put them up.
SAGAL: I got to watch the rest of it.
PERLMAN: Can I share – can I share with the listening audience…
PERLMAN: …My favorite line from “The Wizard Of Oz”?
SAGAL: Yes – from “The Wizard Of Oz,” yes.
PERLMAN: What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
KURTIS: That’s right.
SAGAL: That’s awesome.
PERLMAN: If you don’t like that, you don’t like ice cream.
KURTIS: That was a lion, the cowardly line.
PERLMAN: But I digress. What was the question?
SAGAL: Here’s the question, your first question about beauty. Like everything else, the world of beauty and fashion is being changed by technology. Fashion designers may soon use which of these? A, Fashion Freeze, a freon-based spray that can freeze a model’s face into the proper expression of boredom; B, Insta-lipo, a handheld liposuction device useful for struggling into skinny jeans; or C, the HPR-4C fashion model robot from Japan, which can model clothes on any runway.
PERLMAN: There no D, all of the above?
SAGAL: No, no, there is not. Only one of these things really exists.
PERLMAN: Do I have to pick one?
SAGAL: You do.
PERLMAN: Oh, well, clearly it’s A.
SAGAL: You’re going to choose A, Fashion-Freeze?
SAGAL: No, it was actually the robot. This Japanese…
SAGAL: This Japanese fashion robot can walk the runway, make eight different facial expressions, and date musicians, so that’s good. Next question, you have two more chances, we can still win this. In China, a clothing catalog for teenage girls introduced a new model one year – became an instant sensation. Who is this model? Is in A, a plastic hanger on a coat tree; B, a 72-year-old man; or C, a very large goat?
PERLMAN: Alonzo what do you think?
BODDEN: Well, goats are always funny but I don’t know if a goats.
PERLMAN: I think it’s B.
BODDEN: I think it’s a 72-year-old? Yeah, I’ll go with you on that one.
PERLMAN: Yeah, I think it’s B.
SAGAL: You think it’s B. You are right, both of you are, yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
BODDEN: There we go.
SAGAL: The designer…
PERLMAN: We’re almost home baby.
BODDEN: I got you.
SAGAL: The designer looked at her grandfather and said well, you look pretty good – and particularly his very skinny legs – and he does in fact look good in these teenage girls’ dresses.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: He’s wearing the dresses?
SAGAL: Yeah, he wears dresses, tights, sunglasses. He looks great. You have to look at him – in fact you have to look at him twice to realize it’s not an adolescent girl, it’s a 72-year-old grandfather.
SAGAL: Last question, if you get this one right, you win. Designer Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel – very famous man – he has a model, Baptiste Giabiconi, he refers to has his muse. In fact, Lagerfeld loves this man so much he did what? A, he commissioned a life-size chocolate model of him in his underwear lying on a bed; B, he selectively bred Baptiste to 12 different female models in the hopes of creating a new breed; or C, got a tattoo of Giabiconi’s nude body displaying a tiny tattoo of Lagerfeld’s nude body.
PERLMAN: I’m going with C.
SAGAL: You’re going to go with the recursive tattoo – the tattoo of the tattoo?
PERLMAN: You bet.
SAGAL: No. I’m afraid it was A, the chocolate. It may be the weirdest piece of confectionery ever.
PERLMAN: I’m off chocolate right now.
SAGAL: Yeah I understand.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Ron Perlman do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Well, that’s too bad Ron because as a consolation prize…
PERLMAN: It sure is.
KURTIS: …We were going to make a chocolate model of you.
SAGAL: That would be a lot of chocolate.
PERLMAN: I’m really kind of proud that I lost this one.
SAGAL: I think you should be. I think it’s really another feather in your cap, as far as I’m concerned. Ron Perlman is the star of among many other things, “Hellboy,” “Beauty And The Beast,” “Sons Of Anarchy.” He’s got a great, charming, funny memoir called “Easy Street The Hard Way.” It’s out now. Go get it if you love Ron Perlman. Ron Perlman, thank you so much for being with us today. What fun to talk to.
JOBRANI: Thank you, Ron.
PERLMAN: My pleasure, see you guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”)
ANGELA LANSBURY: (Singing) Just a little change small to say the least, both a little scared, neither one prepared, beauty and the beast. Ever just the same….
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