Ron Perlman Recalls The Moment He Realized Guillermo Del Toro Was A Genius

"Nightmare Alley" isn't the first time that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro cast Ron Perlman (who also figured into del Toro's "Blade II," the "Hellboy" films, and "Pacific Rim") in a strongman role. Back in 1993, the writer-director was working on his debut feature film "Cronos," a horror-fantasy and a stellar, moody take on the vampire subgenre. Perlman came on board (in his fifth feature film role) in the role of Angel de la Guardia, nephew/enforcer of his obscenely rich and equally craven uncle Dieter de la Guardia; the pair worked together in pursuit of a device alleged to give eternal life to its owner. 

In an interview with ComicBook, the Golden Globe winner sings Del Toro's praises and makes it clear that he always knew, even on the set of "Cronos," that the director was one of the greats. Perlman tells ComicBook:

I'll never forget, in Mexico City, we were working on his first film, which is called "Cronos." And nobody knew who he was. I didn't know who he was. I was getting to know the man. You really don't have a feel for the filmmaker because you're too busy in the foxholes along with him, just trying to get the movie in the can. And then this movie had so little money and was so f***ed financially, that it took two weeks for us to see our first set of dailies. The very first frame that came up on somebody's VCR, I guess, it was Guillermo's VCR, that I was sitting with him. He asked me to watch these dailies with him. The very first frame, I said to myself, I said out loud in front of everybody, "This guy is as good as they get. He's [François] Truffaut, he's [Akira] Kurosawa, he's William Wyler, he's Francis Ford Coppola.

'...He's a Filmmaker of the Highest Order'

Perlman called it from frame one of the dailies — Guillermo del Toro is up there with some of the medium's most celebrated storytellers. Indeed, the Mexican filmmaker's sense of composition and thorough obsession with monsters as powerful figures is apparent in his earliest professional works. The Criterion Collection agrees, having added "Cronos" to its acclaimed closet of "important classic and contemporary films" in 2010. For Perlman, it's all in del Toro's visual translation of his stories' darkest themes:

There was just something about the way he frames an image, which is quintessentially the thing that separates cinema from every other art form, that you just know he's got it, that he's a filmmaker of the highest order. And it turned out I was right. That's odd in and of itself because I'm usually never right about anything. But now, all these years later, the world has found out what I was clumsily trying to just say at that moment.