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Award-winning actor Ron Perlman greets a Marine with a handshake while signing autographs for hundreds of service members and their families at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, Calif., during a USO visit May 11. (USO Photos by Fred Greaves)
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'Sons of Anarchy' Actor Ron Perlman Praises Troops Following USO Tour

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

By Christian Pelusi 

When considering actor Ron Perlman, the first thing that comes to mind is gravitas. The presence that Perlman possesses comes from his quiet demeanor, deep baritone voice (which has given him a huge second career as a voice actor for animation and video games) and chiseled features that gives the characters he plays instant fortitude.

The fact that he has played truly larger-than-life characters like Hellboy and the Beast in the “Beauty and the Beast” television series at just 6-feet-1 is a testament to the man’s ability to bring an audience along in his immersion. So when reading his words following a recent USO tour to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) at 29 Palms, Calif. with fellow “Sons of Anarchy” cast members, you can almost feel his voice rumbling through the monitor.

“I am so indebted to our outstanding men and women who singularly sacrifice their own time, talents and safety to protect and defend all that is dear to us as Americans,” he said via email. “To have the opportunity to spend time with these great young people only begins to allow me the opportunity to communicate how special they are and how grateful we ALL are that they are WHO they are.”

As a parent, Perlman has another sensitivity and awareness regarding the troops.

“I guess because I am the father of two kids, I spent a lot of time thinking about the parents of these exemplary young men and women, how consumed they must be for their safety, how proud they must be of what these people have decided to do with their lives. To me there is nothing more moving than the act of self-sacrifice; that is who these people are, what they do. I never imagined, when I was on my way to 29 Palms, that I would experience such a richness of emotions.”

Once there, the various activities, from meet-and-greets to some field instruction, had a profound effect on Perlman.

“My day at 29 Palms had many highlights, most of which consisted of looking into the faces of these magnificent young men and women,” he said. “They are indeed ordinary Americans, whose devotion leads them down extraordinary roads, doing remarkable things. They are Marines, the brightest and the best, in amazing physical condition, willing and able to become superhuman.

“But the true highlight of the day consisted of the time spent with the tank division, both learning the ins-and-outs of this amazing piece of equipment, its design and capabilities, and then having a front-row seat, seeing this marvel in action.”

During his tank instruction, Perlman was bowled over by the vehicle’s operators.

“I consider it a stroke of good fortune that the young man showing me around this mind-blowing instrument was Staff Sgt. Alex Higgs. In the one hour I spent with him I felt like I made a friend, that I got a close up, moving picture of what extraordinary stuff these guys are made of. Alex is indeed the embodiment of all that is great about our military: focus, skill and great humor. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, Alex has been deployed five times, a fact he threw out as casually as if he were going to the gym. Wonderful guy!”

Perlman’s lifelong reverence for the military extends to his preparation when playing soldiers in films like “Enemy at the Gates.” 

“One of the true benefits of being a working actor is that it allows me to explore people from all walks of life,” he said. “In an effort to get right the playing of those characters, it is essential that you find ‘the truth’ of who these people are, how they think, and what moves them through life.

“In the few opportunities I have had to play soldiers, I came to realize the importance of mastering the immense skills that must be employed, both in war and in peace, not only for the benefit of effectiveness but for their own very survival. Soldiers must be incredibly good at what they do, so it is essential that they devote all their focus on getting that way.”

Much of the troops’ focus on their visit was talking to Perlman about his hit FX series “Sons of Anarchy,” where he plays ‘Clay’ Morrow, the leader of a motorcycle club.

“I've been an actor for almost 40 years; ‘Sons of Anarchy’ has engendered a response unlike anything else I have ever done,” he said. “People seem to appreciate this show with an intensity I never saw before. When military guys describe how watching the show helps brighten their days, those are indeed the greatest reviews I have ever received. The time spent with these guys, the respect that we shared, I will remember for all my days.”

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Photo credits: Award-winning actor Ron Perlman greets a Marine with a handshake while signing autographs for hundreds of service members and their families at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, Calif., during a USO visit May 11. Below, Perlman signs a motorcycle helmet for Gunnery Sgt. John Washington at MCAGCC. (USO Photos by Fred Greaves) 

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