Monday, July 07, 2008

Luke Perry Is Just a Small-Town Boy

In the past decade, Luke Perry has transformed himself from a teen heartthrob to a versatile and well-rounded actor. Luke stars in this month’s Hallmark Channel original movie, “A Gunfighter’s Pledge,” part of Hallmark’s “Big Summer of Heroes” month.

Luke has been a man in command of his career, and perhaps even a bit outspoken, since he first auditioned for “Beverly Hills, 90210.” He originally read for the role of spoiled-brat rich kid Steve Sanders (a part that eventually went to Ian Ziering). “I went in for the audition and was like, ‘Look, I know I’m not right for this role, and you know I’m not right for this role.’ They were very cool, you know. I just couldn’t see myself as Steve. We ended up just having a really good talk.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Since leaving “90210,” Luke has accepted an eclectic mix of television and movie roles. Not surprisingly, he is very practical when deciding what type of role to take on next.

“I consider what I have going on in my life during that time. Have I done that type of role yet? Do I like the character? Or maybe there’s an actor I want to work with.” Luke explains.

“There are certain things I wanna do before I’m done. I want to run on top of a train. If the script says I get to run on top of a train, I’ll do it. I accepted a role a while back — my manager didn’t want me to because it wasn’t that good — but the script called for running on top of a train. I didn’t care, I wanted to do it, so I took the role. The movie ended up falling through, though, which I guess was good.”

Growing up in Mansfield, Ohio, taught Luke small-town values and principles. “I only recently started to think about how long I’ve been doing this. I never want to be in something I don’t believe in. Just keep it simple. I try to separate the two — I’m a guy from Ohio, but I live here (in California).”

Luke tries to get back to Ohio whenever he can, especially to cheer on his beloved Cleveland Browns. “I took my son to a game last year. It was so great. Did you see me? I led my section in a verse of ‘Hang On Sloopy.’ We played the (Baltimore) Ravens, and we kicked their ass! It was great to be there with my son and to explain to him: ‘Now here we have the Ravens, and we hate the Ravens. Oh, and let me tell you a little about Art Modell …’”

However, when asked to choose between the state’s two major-league baseball teams, the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds, Luke is torn. “I’m split between the Tribe and the Reds. I always cheer for both of them.”

The same goes for competing amusement parks, Cedar Point and Kings Island. “I haven’t been to either since I was a kid, but with Cedar Point you had the Corkscrew. I remember waiting in line for hours for that one! And with Kings Island, remember when Evel Knievel jumped over all those buses? I’ll never forget that.”

One reason why Luke likes working with the Hallmark Channel so much is the because of the type of family-friendly programming that it brings to American homes. “A lot of TV nowadays is really kind of gruesome. It’s nice to be able to just watch a movie on TV with your family. At no point in time as a parent do you have to worry about leaving the room with your kid alone (watching ‘A Gunfighter’s Pledge’). That’s what I like so much about Hallmark: Their programming is interesting and intelligent, but not pandering.”