Ron Perlman Creates More Anarchy on Hand of God

Gregory E. Miller
HandofGod_S1_61_101_0086.CR2, Ron Pearlman
Karen Ballard/Amazon

The first time we meet judge Pernell Harris, he’s naked and speaking in tongues in the middle of a public fountain. So maybe not the guy you want delivering your verdict.

In Amazon’s new streaming drama Hand of God, Ron Perlman follows up six seasons on Sons of Anarchy with his most complex role yet as Harris, a powerful man who doesn’t let ethics get in his way. After his son shoots himself and ends up in a coma, Harris has visions of flowing blood and hears his son’s voice asking for vengeance on the man who raped his wife. Having recently become involved with a suspicious church, Harris believes God is speaking to him, so he decides to take justice into his own hands.

It’s heavy stuff, which is why Perlman jumped at the chance to star as the antihero and executive produce a major project for the first time. “Are the character’s decisions always the purest? Are they always the most moral? Are they always the most ethical?” asks Perlman. “Is he out for himself? Is he a crusader? Is his quest for power, or is it something more altruistic than that?”

Perlman promises that Hand of God is not a critique of organized religion. “It never, ever makes a value judgment about what’s a better way to worship than any other way,” he says. “But it begins to explore that point in a man’s life where he needs something greater than himself in order to believe that there’s some sort of reason to go on. That’s a way bigger discussion than to be religious or to not be religious.” But Perlman hopes the show does create a dialogue: “We’re more interested in listening to a response from the audience as to how they feel about their relationship with spirituality.”

As for whether the visions are God-sent or Harris is just insane, Perlman’s lips are sealed. “I will tell you this,” he says. “The pilot ends with a question, and the 10th episode, which is the end of the first season, ends with 40 questions.”

Hand of God, Entire season available Friday, September 4, Amazon Prime