ENTERTAINMENT

Ron Perlman is American face of 1st U.S.-Cuban film production, 'Sergio and Sergei'

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03:  Actor Ron Perlman speaks onstage during the 'Hand Of God' panel discussion at the Amazon Studios portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03: Actor Ron Perlman speaks onstage during the 'Hand Of God' panel discussion at the Amazon Studios portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Ron Perlman, best known for his work in “Hellboy” and “Sons of Anarchy,” says that his true passion lies with independent films.

So when he got the opportunity to be on the front end of what he calls the first U.S.-Cuban narrative film in 60 years, he just couldn’t say no – even if he wasn’t sure it was completely legal.

Through his production company, Wing and a Prayer Pictures, Perlman recently wrapped “Sergio and Sergei,” which was shot in the island nation.

“A lot of American productions are going down now to utilize what is fresh, virgin territory – for a number of reasons that include economic ones – in anticipation of what is about to explode in a new chapter for American and Cuban relations,” Perlman told Deadline. “The table is set for that, and forward thinking people are positioning themselves to test the waters for what a collaboration like that will yield.”

According to Deadline, “Sergio and Sergei” focuses on a cosmonaut who gets stranded in the Soviet space station Mir in 1991, at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the new government didn’t have the resources to bring him home. With only the help of a ham radio, the cosmonaut enlists the help of a Cuban philosophy professor and an American journalist covering NASA to bring him home.

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Perlman said he was introduced to Cuban producer Adriana Moya through the state owned RTV, who told him she had a independent film that had a role for an American for it.

“What we decided is, I would act in the film and produce and rep the film in the American marketplace and at festivals, even though I don’t think there has been a Cuban film in an American festival in the 60 years since the embargo,” he said. “It was exciting to be part of what we felt was an inevitable change in direction.”

The 66-year-old actor said there was some hesitation about the legality of the project due to the long-standing embargo against the socialist country.

“Obama hadn’t gone down there yet, and I made an agreement not knowing whether this union was even legally possible,” he said. “We spent a year with them getting it together and me finishing [the Amazon series] 'Hand of God,' and in that time, President Obama went to a ballgame there with Raúl Castro, and they opened an embassy down there and opened the door for stuff like this to happen. Congress hasn’t lifted the embargo, but in my mind it’s inevitable, and there was this opportunity for our culture to be turned onto one I’ve found to be so vibrant and among the most compelling of anyplace I’ve visited.”

Perlman was on the island 10 days for the shoot, and it was enough time for him to fall in love. He is working Cuban novelist Enrique Cirules now on another movie on the final days of the writer Ernest Hemingway.

“I visited the Hemingway estate down there and did a bar crawl of all the places Papa drank and f----d and ate and wrote. His love affair with Havana is not unlike my own – immediate and visceral,” he said. 

Perlman added,“Enrique has a theory about Hemingway’s last days and his relationship with the revolution. Since I’m around the same age Hemingway was when he put the rifle in his mouth, we’re doing a story on the last days of Hemingway, focusing on the very last day. We’ll shoot it down there, his adopted home. Now that I’ve seen it, I understand and embrace his passion for the place.”

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