I don’t often get excited about reading peoples’ autobiographies much. Reading an individual’s rise to fame and success is hardly ever inspiring, but every so often, a true gem is published. “Easy Street, the Hard Way” by Ron Perlman and Michael Largo is one such gem that I am very glad I picked up.
Now to be fair, I listened to the audiobook version of Easy Street solely because it was read by Perlman himself. Boy, what a great job Perlman does narrating the book! Whether he’s portraying Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr., or Guillermo del Toro, I never once was taken out of the book. Ron Perlman speaks honestly and brashly about his experiences.
Ron reads the book the way the words were meant to be spoken, almost as if he’s in the room with you and telling you all these personal stories. But what about the content you ask? Settle down, Slim. The book certainly takes you from the actor’s pre-acting career all the way up to after his role on Sons of Anarchy.
As a fan of his filmography, I loved listening to how his first film, “Quest for Fire,” led him down the path of being sought out to do Special FX work as seen in Beauty and the Beast and, my favorite, Hellboy. You definitely hear the love Perlman has for these films as he walks you through how he got each of those roles and what they required of him as a performer. However, If you need 1 reason to get this book, it by far has to be his encounter with Marlon Brando. I’ve now listed to this story 3 times and each telling is funnier than the last.
Above all, the heart of the memoir is the wisdom that Perlman is sharing with the younger generation. Perlman comes from a generation where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and John F. Kennedy where the kinds of celebrity people wanted to emulate and not the kinds of Kim Kardashian, Honey Boo Boo, or the random 15 minute celebrity on any given reality show.
“Who do they have to aspire to? And fuck me, if i can think of a single one! I mean, i don’t wanna seem snarky, but who the fuck are they? Are they the people you see in the top forties in music? Are they they sports figures who go from team to team, scandal to scandal? Are they all those amazing philanthropists who populate the seventeen thousand reality shows that clog my fucking arteries, gearing it toward the audiences with third grade educations? Well, are they, punk?” – Ron Perlman
“Iconoclast” is a term used throughout the book as Perlman talks about people he admired growing up as an actor. That really struck a chord with me. As a guy growing up in with this reality TV generation, I agree and see that there isn’t anyone now who kids can aspire to be. Perlman stresses the importance of the iconoclast that makes us think and challenges what we think is the norm.
There is a lot to take away from Easy Street. Like a good movie, I saw myself going back to it and relistening to some chapters to really appreciate what the actor is saying – especially when he talks about depression and how it, surprisingly for me, was something he dealt with as well. Let’s get something right, this isn’t a self help book, yet the way it’s written and narrated makes it very relatable and I was able to walk away from the book enlightened. In short, “Easy Street, the Hard Way” is an honest, hilarious, inspiring, in depth look at an actor’s life from a kid growing up in Washington heights to becoming a a beloved actor and, dare I say it, an iconoclast himself.
Check out the audiobook from Amazon!
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