|THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS
Official Movie Magazine
Vincent Perez is nothing if not a realist, and that quality was very much a factor when it came to deciding whether or not to come back from the dead as the avenging Ashe in The Crow: City of Angels. "I saw that there was a certain amount of baggage in saying yes to this," he admits in a moment of candor. "But I saw it more as positive baggage than negative. Brandon Lee was obviously part of it; I thought the first movie was very good and that he did a great job in it. And, of course, I thought about the accident. But it was not something that stayed on my mind."
Instead, the actor concerned himself with finding his own approach to playing the revenge-driven Ashe, which started with a particular, pesonal base and continued to develop as filming progressed. "Once I saw the script, I immediately knew what I wanted to bring to the part," he recalls. "I told the producer and director that I was interested in playing Ashe as a cross between Hamlet and Jim Morrison. That was like the base for me. That's where the character started. But once filming began, it seemed like every day we were finding some new facet in this character."
"Ashe is a guide who is leading his victims to death," Perez continues, "but as the film progressed, we find that his journey back from the dead is much more complex than that. We discover that, as he kills people, he is learning as much about himself as he is about the people he kills."
Perez is quick to point out that while The Crow: City of Angels is no action-packed thriller on the surface, there is much more to the film than meets the eye. "There is a great deal of symbolism to this story," he offers. "There is a hot Renaissance feel to this movie that draws on things like Dante's Inferno, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. This is a movie about substance and rituals. It's like a dance of love, death and pain. It's a medieval mythic story."
And, chuckles the actor, "It was also physically a very rough film. On the very first day of filming, we shot the death sequence of Ashe and his son. I spent the entire day being beaten up and dragged around and dumped in water. And that was just the first day. I knew, at that point, that Ashe was going to a a very physical and challenging role."
Perez made his film debut in Gardien de Nuit; he went on to co-star with Jacqueline Bisset in La Maison de Jade and made a strong impression opposite Gerard Depardieu in the critically acclaimed Cyrano de Bergerac. Roles in the films Captaine Fracasse, the Oscar-winning Indochine, Fanfan, Talk of Angels and Queen Margot folowed as Perez's profile slowly but surely reached U.S. shoes and City of Angels director Tim Pope.
"I saw Queen Margot and I knew Vincent had every quality we could possibly want," Pope says. "He has a physical beauty along with the agility to play the role. Once I saw him, there was no doubt who should play Ashe."
And it was Perez's considerable skills that ultimately allowed him to deal with one of the most potent and potentially daunting elements of the Crow persona: the signature makeup.
"Deciding to do this character was like taking a dance with death, and the mask was very much a part of that dance," he says. "It gave me the freedom to make Ashe a good many things. It allowed me to play the freak, the joker, the devil."