There are plenty of naysayers who seem to think Pacific Rim is some kind of Transformers ripoff, but they must not be paying attention. First of all, Pacific Rim has a lot more in common with Godzilla movies and, more importantly, it is directed by visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. Naturally del Toro found a role in the movie for frequent collaborator Ron Perlman, whom del Toro has directed in four previous films (most notably the Hellboy movies). Perlman spoke to The Los Angeles Times regarding his role in the film and his working relationship with del Toro.
Perlman admits he did not have much to do with the development of the character, to the point of saying, “I was probably as little involved in the creation of it as you can possibly imagine.” He later adds, “Hannibal Chau was completely [del Toro’s]creation all the way down to the outer trappings, the kind of croupier adornments, the dark glasses, the hole in his left eye. All I had to do was kind of just show up and not trip over anything.”
In fact, when reading the script Perlman couldn’t figure out which role del Toro had him in mind for. He says, “The script arrived at my house and I’m reading and I’m reading and I’m reading. I kept looking for something that would scream my name out. I finally had to call his assistant and say, ‘Can you please tell me what role I’m looking at?’ They said, ‘Hannibal Chau.’ I said, ‘I’m not [kidding]around. What am I looking at here?’ They said, ‘No, Hannibal Chau, that’s the role.’ It was definitely not obvious. It was definitely a very theatrical kind of gesture on top of a very theatrically rendered character — to have a big overgrown Jew from New York play a guy who calls himself Hannibal Chau.”
However, regardless of his surprise Perlman admits he is always ready to work with del Toro. He explains, “I’m kind of in before he even asks. First of all he’s always come up with the most fun characters I’ve ever played in my career, one after another, starting with Cronos… Same with the Hellboy movies and now this. I know I’m in the hands of somebody who understands my wheelhouse and understands my approach to everything and is going to utilize that to the extent that it will hopefully benefit the film. It’s never a question of if I’m going to do it or not. It’s a question of will he ask. So far, so good.”