When Guillermo del Toro wanted to direct his first major motion picture, he knew which actor he wanted as his star. But it took some convincing to get his way.
In 1992, del Toro was unknown in Hollywood. A native of Mexico, he had finally raised enough money to fund his first feature film, Cronos.
Del Toro was a fan of the American television series, “Beauty and the Beast.” He wanted its lead actor, Ron Perlman, to star in Cronos.
They didn’t know each other, but that didn’t stop del Toro from jotting a handwritten letter to Perlman introducing himself and asking him to agree to a meeting. The director also sent the script.
Struck by del Toro’s heartfelt tone, Perlman was intrigued. He calls the letter “the most moving I had ever received.” He has kept it for 22 years.
What made it so special? Del Toro opened up to Perlman about his dreams as a moviemaker.
More important, del Toro did his research. He praised Perlman’s body of work and demonstrated a keen familiarity with the actor’s performances.
Del Toro wrote that he’d treat it as a privilege if Perlman took a leap of faith and signed up for the role. His humility charmed Perlman.
After reading the script, Perlman accepted the role. It was a wise move, as del Toro emerged as a visionary filmmaker. And del Toro subsequently wrote and directed Hellboy, propelling Perlman’s career to a new level.
— Adapted from Easy Street (The Hard Way), Ron Perlman and Michael Largo, Da Capo.