Silver screen's golden man

By Barbara Vancheri

Diamonds on the soles of her shoes, as Paul Simon once sang, are so last century.

In Pacific Rim Ron Perlman's character of Hannibal Chau sports gold on both his supersize shoes and teeth, just part of the florid wardrobe assembled by director Guillermo del Toro and costume designer Kate Hawley.

"When I walked in, there was a series of hugely garish choices, as if I was some sort of croupier on steroids in Vegas in some futuristic casino. We finally settled on magenta as the theme of this guy. It was cool because once I tied the tie and put on the jacket and walked on set, I had a pretty clear idea of what Guillermo's vision for this guy was going to be just by how he adorned him."

Hannibal, who also has a nasty scar and mutilated eye, has profited handsomely from the monstrous creatures known as Kaiju that have risen from the sea in the sci-fi adventure. He sells Kaiju remains on the black market.

"I knew this was a not particularly dominant role, I knew that this role was basically more for colour and sort of a sub-story. And I also knew I was the last one on board because Guillermo insisted on putting all of the huge moving parts together before he got around to the Hannibal role.

"I have a notion that the Hannibal role was originally conceived for an actor of a different ethnicity, and so it took a while for Guillermo to convince himself, and then the studio, that if he was played by an overgrown Jew from Brooklyn with a name like Hannibal Chau, then we're talking about a character of multidimensional full of ... well, you get the point."

Perlman and del Toro worked together on the director's first feature, the 1994 vampire movie Cronos, and reunited on 2002's Blade II. In 2004, Perlman starred in the film-maker's big-screen adaptation of Mike Mignola's classic Dark Horse comic-book series, Hellboy, and its sequel.

On television, he gained a cult following for his portrayal of Vincent opposite Linda Hamilton in the original Beauty and the Beast series and, more recently, joined his Pacific Rim co-star, Charlie Hunnam, in the FX hit Sons of Anarchy.

It's been more than two decades since the actor, now 63, met the Mexican-born film-maker, Oscar-nominated for writing his original screenplay for Pan's Labyrinth.

"The more time that goes by, I think we're up to like 22 years at this point - 23, 21 years - the more time that goes by, the more it helps to solidify how right we were when we first became pals, which was immediate. It was at the first dinner we ever had together when he was preparing to shoot his very first film in Mexico called Cronos.

"He invited me to participate in that, and then he came up to LA and we met. There was this instant kind of ease and affinity. We worshipped at the same shrines; we were turned on by the same things and we had the same heroes."


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