When Marvel chose to cast Jon Bernthal as The Punisher in the second season of Daredevil a lot of people were less than optimistic because most of us still associated Bernthal with The Walking Dead’s Shane. Equally hated and loved, Shane was an amazing and complex character that only Bernthal could have pulled off. I, for one, was sorry to see him go.
It was by watching interviews of Bernthal that I realized how different he is from the characters he plays, Shane in TWD, Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis in Fury , to name just two of his roles before stepping into Frank Castle’s combat boots. A father of 3, Jon Bernthal is actually a pretty relaxed and happy dude, friendly and open, nothing like the majority of his characters that seem to have a penchant for violence and a dark dangerous side to them. The fact that he can so easily transform into his characters comes as a true testament of his acting prowess, but now, let’s go deeper into the character we’re talking about, Frank Castle AKA The Punisher.
In this iteration of the character Frank Castle is a man set on taking on all criminals by any means necessary with the ultimate goal of erasing them from our world. While previous movies about The Punisher did not show the Marvel Studios banner, this one IS Marvel’s The Punisher. Jon Bernthal has studied the character at length and said :
once you devour and eat up as much as you can, my way is to make it as personal as possible
His main inspiration, however, is Thomas Jane’s short film Dirty Laundry in which the actor was basically paying homage to the character and the fans after deciding not to star in a second movie due to creative differences with the studio.
On understanding the character Bernthal had this to say :
He ain’t got a fucking cape. He ain’t got any superpowers. He’s a fucking tortured, angry father and husband who’s living in this unbelievable world of darkness and loss and torment.
The Punisher is basically an angry man, completely broken by the tragic loss of his family, who then rose up and took to hunting down anyone who had anything to do with his loss and anyone involved in criminal activities of any kind. Having killing bad guys by any means necessary as his only reason to live turns Castle into a true psychopath, and when we add sorrow and sometimes guilt for the loss of his two children and wife, not being able to get close to anyone and not trusting people easily The Punisher becomes a challenge for any actor.
When Bernthal’s Punisher was introduced on Netflix’s Daredevil nobody expected him to steal the show from Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk (brilliant Vincent D’Onofrio)but he totally did and this is why he was given his own show. Don’t believe me? Take a look below:
John Bernthal certainly has the look: the crazy eyes, the broken nose reminding viewers of someone who is accustomed to violence, the Jarhead haircut that accentuates the psycho look and the functional fitness of his body. Neither big nor small, built but flexible, muscles that you know aren’t just for show.
When it comes to playing a character with no superpowers, credibility is key, that’s when the actor is required to be believable, to become the character to be able to a certain degree to perform the actions that define him. Bernthal trained with live ammunition, spent hundreds of hours lifting weights and sparring with USMC combat instructors and result was amazing. Jon Bernthal IS The Punisher.