Event Report: NYC Screening of “POKER NIGHT” with Ron Perlman Q&A!Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like FANGORIA’s free New York City screenings. Usually held within intimate art house venues, such as the Cinema Village on East 12th Street, there’s an inimitable sense of excitement that flows through the theaters as audiences prepare themselves for what horrors await. And while FANGORIA has brought stellar guests in previous NYC screenings, there was a heightened nature to this screening of Greg Francis’ POKER NIGHT, as it’s biggest star, genre vet Ron Perlman, would be making a live appearance as well as a post-show Q&A.Sporting a cast that included the likes of BREAKING BAD’s Giancarlo Esposito, LOST’s Titus Welliver, GHOST SHIP’s Ron Eldard, I AM NUMBER FOUR’s Beau Mirchoff, THE CALL’s Michael Eklund, LONE SURVIVOR’s Corey Large, NEIGHBORS’ Halston Sage and, of course, Ron Perlman, there wasn’t much known about POKER NIGHT before the lights came down in the theater. However, that turned out to be one of the film’s greatest advantages, as POKER NIGHT turned out to be one of the most fun horror movies of the year, filled to the brim with maniacal dark humor, strong performances and cringeworthy moments of bloody horror. Expect to hear more on POKER NIGHT later this week in my full review…
Needless to say, the sentiment was shared, and as the lights went up in the theater, a rare post-screening applause broke out for the film as FANGORIA’s Editor Emeritus Tony Timpone made his way to the stage in front of the big screen, gauging the audiences’ enthusiastic reaction and introducing Ron Perlman. Perlman came to the stage in high spirits, setting up stools for what would end up being a unsurprisingly fascinating Q&A. Aside from his years of moderating experiences, Timpone and Perlman had a natural rapport that certainly lent to Perlman’s storytelling, beginning with an anecdote about how Perlman came aboard the project and his prior working relationship with several members of the cast.
Perlman was very honest about his experiences on the film, but also very complimentary; he championed the script, director and co-stars while taking humble self-deprecating jabs about his own performance. Perlman also confirmed that the attitude on set was, in fact, informed by the title: with the main cast of experienced character actors, the cast members kept their jokes and stories flowing even when the camera was off. And Perlman even gave extra praise for some of the more up-and-coming performers in the film, including the young Mirchoff and the film’s intense antagonist.
Following Timpone’s questions, the floor was opened to the audience, who asked a variety of questions on both POKER NIGHT and Perlman’s illustrious career. Questions on POKER NIGHT revealed much about the film: filming lasted for 24 days, Perlman didn’t do outside research for his role, Perlman embraced the chance to play a straight-shooting protagonist for a change, and Perlman was initially offered Titus Welliver’s role of Maxwell before choosing to play head honcho Calabrese. However, Perlman got a particular rise from the audience when certain dialogue was misconstrued, leaving the actor to respond: “Why don’t you come to my house and explain the fuckin’ movie to me?”
Perlman also addressed many of his high profile roles outside of POKER NIGHT as well, including HELLBOY, PACIFIC RIM and SONS OF ANARCHY.
“I’m still fightin’, man,” Perlman told the audience in regards to a third HELLBOY film. “I keep reading about all of Guillermo’s projects; Guillermo’s doing this, Guillermo’s doing that, Guillermo’s doing the other thing. I’m about to call him and say, ‘Hey, motherfucker, make some time for me! We’ve got something to finish here!'”
When this prompted Timpone to inquire about Perlman reprising his scene-stealing role as Hannibal Chau in PACIFIC RIM 2, Perlman admitted, “They did ask me about my availability to come to do something for PACIFIC RIM 2, but the details are still all over the place there. They haven’t figured it quite out yet. But we’ll see.”
And when Perlman was asked about whether or not he watched the final season of SONS OF ANARCHY, he joked, “I didn’t get a chance to watch it, but I heard it’s terrible. Just really awful. I probably won’t waste my time.” Perlman also addressed his impending directorial debut from his production company, A Wing and a Prayer Productions, stating, “I’m waiting until I get the perfect cast to do it. I’m going to do it, but when I read the script, I knew exactly how it should look and feel, and I need the cast that I want to do that. The problem is, I haven’t been able to get them yet since we don’t have the money to get them, but it’ll happen eventually.”
But perhaps the most interesting point of the night was how unexpectedly sentimental some of the questions became, as many aspiring actors and filmmakers vetted the actor for advice on the film business. “Don’t take no for an answer,” Perlman responded, continuing, “I can’t balance a tray on my hand, so I can’t be a waiter. I can’t drive that good, so I can’t work a taxi. I can’t cook, so I can’t be a chef. I know how to act, so if it’s between being homeless and broke or fighting to get any acting job I can, I’m going to keep at it as hard as I can, and I’m not going to take no for an answer.” Perlman also suggested fans check out his autobiography, EASY STREET (THE HARD WAY), which Perlman admitted writing “at a stage in my career where I’m obliged to pass on information to aspiring actors through my experiences.”
As the night winded down, Timpone took one last question from an audience member about the potential for a POKER NIGHT sequel, which Perlman quickly quipped, “Yeah, it’s called SON OF POKER NIGHT.” Perlman then stayed to meet and take pictures with his fans, graciously capping off another unique FANGORIA NYC screening. Yet if you missed the screening, you can check out the pictures from the Q&A below, and you can see POKER NIGHT now, as the film is on iTunes and VOD from XLrator Media. And enjoy your winter, NYC, as FANGORIA’s next free screening will be Chad Michael Ward’s STRANGE BLOOD in March!