easystreet

The blurb:

The candid, hilarious, and inspiring memoir of the iconic star of Beauty and the Beast, the Hellboy movies, and Sons of Anarchy.

A classically trained actor who cut his teeth in the East Village’s Off-Broadway scene, Ron Perlman—a Golden Globe winner (Beauty and the Beast) with starring roles in the Hellboy movies, Drive, Pacific Rim, and Sons of Anarchy—has traveled an offbeat path to showbiz success. His story involves rising from New York’s tough Washington Heights neighborhood, enduring incredible hardships, and ignoring the naysayers who taunted him for his distinctive looks. It’s a tale that demonstrates the power of persistence.

With a filmography of nearly 200 credits working alongside countless stars during his forty-year career, Perlman knows the ins-and-outs of filmmaking. In Easy Street (the Hard Way), he shares his inspiring story for the next generation of performers.

My review:

I first read Ron Perlman’s memoir ‘Easy Street (The Hard Way)’ when the book came out in 2014, but I’m reviewing it now because I find it’s a book that I keep coming back to – quoting it, thinking about it, and reading it.

Perlman’s book is a fascinating and entertaining  read. He writes in depth about his background and upbringing , and shares his often rather blunt thoughts on some of his most famous roles in movies and TV-shows, as well as many wicked-funny anecdotes from his career (the craziness that went on when he worked with Marlon Brando on ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’ is a prime example).

But beyond that (and this is the reason why this book has stuck with me), Perlman’s book is an exploration of what it means to be an actor and an artist dedicated to a craft that satisfies your soul, but maybe not always your wallet. It’s a book about stubborn perseverance, and how difficult but crucial it is to stick to who you know you are, rather than try to become what other people think you ought to be.

The tough guy persona comes easily to Perlman, on and off screen, but in this book he also comes across as very aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, and what makes him tick. One example is this passage in the book’s first chapter, where he talks about his younger self and his distinctive look:

It was the kind of face that was not ugly but surely one of its kind, and he’d gotten accustomed to people taking a double look. He had learned to counter this seemingly endless barrage of negativity with a tough-guy, good-humored bravado, which he had learned as a necessity to survive when growing up on the streets of Washington Heights, NYC.

Perlman was very active in the theatre before he (slowly) started getting better movie-roles, and his love for, and dedication to acting – on stage and in the movies – is the main theme that runs through the entire book. There are also many forthright revelations about his struggles with depression, his experience in therapy, and the personal and professional lessons he’s learned in a life full of ups and downs.

‘Easy Street’ is a book about life, art, work, family, movies, and a lot of stuff in between. It’s written very much in Perlman’s own voice (definitely a good thing), and it’s hard to put down once you start reading. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read, and I recommend it to anyone, whether you think you’re a fan of the man or not. To quote director Guillermo del Toro’s foreword:

I love him because he is, as you are about to discover, one of the most imperfect, most charming human beings on the planet.

Finally, some choice quotes from the book:

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