We speak to the Pacific Rim star about his alternative approach to Hollywood stardom.
In Pacific Rim, you play Hannibal Chau. That’s an interesting name…
He’s an interesting character [laughs]. He’s a war profiteer who has a relationship with the government where he’s able to convert monsters that we are at war with into cosmetics.
Working in Hollywood, do you see a market for products like that already?
I’ve met a lot of real people who are relatable to Chau, a man who’s managed to appeal to the vainest aspects of the human condition.
Do you think modern blockbusters are missing laughs now? Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder have made superheroes serious…
Humour is a big part of [Pacific Rim director] Guillermo del Toro’s work. When he paints on to a big canvas, he’s very conscious of ‘chiaroscuro’, the art of combining light and dark so both have maximum impact.
Do you two share any interests outside film?
Food. I actually just saw a quote he gave about me. He said, “Inside Ron is a closeted fat man.” To Guillermo I say, breaking news: he’s out.
Have you talked about a third Hellboy?
I’m giving body blows to Guillermo until he makes it a reality, but it’s a lonely road. The last two broke even, only making a little money. It’s going to be hard to find anyone to write that cheque.
Have any fans written to say they’ll help crowd-fund it?
No idea, I’ve not read any fan mail since the first Hellboy on account of how graphic it was. Certain people, mostly women, wanted to do some strange things to the beast, so I decided that weird sh*t was none of my business.
You’ve done a lot of voiceover work. Is it easier than film acting?
So much easier [laughs]. You don’t need to spend six months getting all touchy-feely, talking about the writer’s intentions. F*ck all that.
Tell us about playing a transsexual for indie comedy 3, 2, 1… Frankie Go Boom.
It was terrific, very liberating. When I first started acting, I did nothing but comedy. Now, studio bosses just look at me and say, “That guy’s not funny.” We all did this film for free. That said, I never thought I’d be dressing up as a woman.
You kiss Chris O’Dowd in the film. How was he?
He’s pretty good, and that wasn’t even in the script. On meeting him for the first time I shook his hand and asked, “Can I kiss you on the mouth in the first scene?” He was a gentleman and gave me permission. And the rest as they say is – well, not quite history because nobody saw that movie.
Did you ask your wife for tips on being ‘womanly’?
We had a couple of conversations about nail polish. Until I said the wrong thing and she told me to go f*ck myself.
You’ve been married since 1981. What’s the secret?
“You’re so right, darling.”
Pacific Rim is at cinemas nationwide from 12 July