Book Talk: Hellboy discovers success the hard way

By Gabrielle Wheaton

21 March 2022

A book as large in personality as the man who wrote it, "Easy Street (the Hard Way): A Memoir by Ron Perlman" is a study in how to tell a great story.

Reading this book is like sitting down with the famous actor himself as he regales you with tales of his life filled with humour, honesty and a refreshingly straightforward examination of the clinical depression he battled for so many years.

Born in New York City's Washington Heights in 1950, Perlman grew up with a hyper-awareness of his appearance and how it differed from others, learning to be the joker in class to fit in and gain friends. However, it was this difference and penchant for performing that caught the attention of the school drama teacher, who pulled Perlman away from the swimming team, where he was making less-than-stellar waves. That move, which was supported strongly by his father, set him on the path to a highly successful acting career. Perlman has since won a Golden Globe for the TV series "Beauty and the Beast," worked with some of Hollywood's biggest stars in the firmament and built a lifelong friendship with Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro, who had such faith in his abilities that he fought hard to have Perlman play the title role of "Hellboy" - twice. Indeed, it is Perlman’s face, that character-filled mug that stands out in a crowd, that his fans and followers have grown to love and admire, along with his charismatic personality.

Liberally sprinkled with expletives, this book is more Scotch whiskey and a cigar than afternoon tea and crumpets, but it is unquestionably Perlman’s unique voice you hear when reading through his often hilarious, and up-close-and-personal stories of working with the likes of Sean Connery and Marlon Brando, and meeting icons like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. There are also deeply personal revelations throughout, some of them quite heartbreaking, that give important insight into what is at the heart of his dogged determination.

As the American entertainer Eddie Cantor once said, “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success." Ron Perlman had to pay his dues and then some, and to those who see only the hits, this book is a reminder of the many misses that occurred along the way that also helped to make him the man he is today. For Perlman, it was not just embracing his flaws that led to his success, but also celebrating them and accepting who he is. In telling his story, Perlman provides a road map for other dreamers to follow.

"Easy Street (the Hard Way): A Memoir by Ron Perlman" is available at Next Chapter in Camana Bay.

This article was originally published in the March 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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About the author

Gabrielle Wheaton is a senior executive coordinator at Dart, supporting multiple teams in the company’s real estate, events and business development division. Gabrielle has worked for Dart for 10 years and has lived in the Cayman Islands for the majority of her life. A gifted artist and actress, Gabrielle holds a four-year diploma in Classical Realist Art and has been involved with the Cayman Drama Society since she was a child.

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