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Ron Perlman Surprised by Survival of his Brutal Clay on ‘SOA’

Ron Perlman is back to work on the set of “Sons of Anarchy” this week – and admits he’s surprised to be there.  As followers of FX’s acclaimed series about an outlaw motorcycle club are aware, his character, the group’s ex-president Clay Morrow, went on a violent spree last season — violent even for Clay.  He killed an old friend, brutally beat his wife’s (Katey Sagal) face, and ordered the death of the mother of his baby step-grandson.  And those are just the highlights.

“Clay got a little expansive in his house-cleaning agenda,” is how the well-spoken Perlman puts it.  “He actually started doing things that, as I was reading them for the first time, even I was shocked.  There was a survey done toward the end of the season, before the last shows aired, and only 19 per cent of the country figured he could make it through the year alive.  I would have been in the 81 per cent that said, ‘He’s got to go.’  So the fact that I’m around to do Season 5, I’m taking as borrowed time, and I’m really going to enjoy myself, whatever comes my way.  It’s a blessing for me to be back in Season 5 of a show I love to do.”  Perlman has made a tour de force of the role.

“Sons of Anarchy” — which adds Jimmy Smits to its cast in Season 5, debuting in September — has actually already been renewed for Season 6.  Perlman, who, incidentally, has several films in the pipeline, smiles at the mention.  “If you asked me two or three years ago, I’d have figured I’d be around for that, but I’m not taking any bets on Clay Morrow these days.”  He says he doesn’t know how the season will go.  “We get the scripts a few days before we shoot them, and that’s fine with me.  You don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Right now, Perlman says he isn’t even 100 per cent certain that he’ll get June 11 off.  But he’s pretty sure he will.  That’s the date he will be hosting The Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s 3rd Annual Los Angeles Golf Classic, benefiting SAG’s Catastrophic Health Fund and Assistance Programs.  “I don’t ask for that many accommodations.  I’ve asked them to do the very best they can to make sure I can attend my own tournament that day, and they’ve never let me down before,”  he says.  Supporters of this year’s “Actors Fore Actors” tourney include George Clooney, Tim Allen, Kevin Nealon, Greg Itzin, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Romano and Dave Annable.  The event, sponsored by Integrated Wealth Management, takes place at Burbank’s Lakeside Golf Club.

“It’s grown each year.  The first one was great, the second one even better, so I’m looking forward to this being the best one yet.  It’s a true labor of love,” he says of the star-studded competition.  As for his own golfing prowess, Perlman says, “I have to admit, I have much more love for the game than talent.”

MEANWHILE:  We couldn’t help wondering — what’s Perlman’s response to the CW’s plans for a new version of his hit series of the 1980s — “Beauty and the Beast” — as part of its fall lineup?  “I saw Jay Acovone the other night and he was one of the regulars on ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and he asked the same thing,” Perlman tells us.  “I said, ‘We’re so out, we’re in.’  If you stay out long enough, it all comes back around.  That’s why I never threw out my bellbottoms.”