INTERVIEW – Jon Bernthal on the Punisher “He’s in my heart.”

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Jon Brenthal’s Punisher character has captured the mind of Netflix subscribers. With an Emmy worthy performance on season 2 of Daredevil, the final episode of the season left the world of Frank Castle open ended.  Netflix seems poised to take advantage of this with a spin-off and Bernthal’s and his character both seem unstoppable.

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According to deadline.com, this wasn’t easy at all. Bernthal is married with children, and to play Frank Castle he split himself off from his family.

“I really felt that for me, to eliminate the creature comforts, to isolate myself from my family, to really actively engage and be open to a relative level of darkness in my life, I think really serves the character and really was essential explore.”

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Although as fans can attest, the pit-bull that Frank rescued is actually one of Jon Bernthal’s dogs.  The actor is  passionate about pit-bull rescue and supports a number of pit-bull rescue charities.  He and Frank have that in common, a complex character.  Bernthal talked about how his work includes an element of immersion, “I don’t think it would be respectful to the character that so many fans have adored for years. I don’t think it would be fair for the members of the American military who have put the punisher insignia on their battle armor and fought and died for our country.”

For me to be at nightclubs and bars and restaurants and hanging out with my kids and just being a happy guy, and being on my phone, turning up on set, playing pretend, that’s not how I work and that’s not how I want to work. So shut off the other things, to shut off the comfort, and to shut off the escape and television and things like that, I think that that’s part of the job. It’s definitely how I worked on with Frank.

Netflix and Marvel’s collaboration has continued to bear dividends. From Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones to Daredevil Netflix has been delivering on gritty storylines.  With the destruction of New York City, the cosmopolitan Hell’s Kitchen has reverted back to it’s grim and gritty roots. Proving that it’s all connected is no exception and Frank Castle fits perfectly into that world. Bernthal praised the netflix model, “I really love the Netflix model, and I think they’re on to something.”

 It lets you take huge risks. It lets you risk alienating your audience and abandoning your audience, and then being courageous enough to know that you’re going to win them back four episodes down the line, but you know that they don’t have to wait four weeks until they get that episode. 

A character like Frank is more then capable of causing controversy however and in the recent debate about gun control, Jon Bernthal is aware and sensitive to the concerns of the American public, “Art should hold a mirror to society and make you ask questions.” Bernthal said, “It’s our job to make you ask questions.”

 I think you can make arguments based on our show that would support either side. I like that. I think that’s what we should do. I think that our job is not to give you an answer. I don’t think our job is to tell you which way to think. I think our job is to hold a mirror out to reflect society and show both sides of it. That’s kind of where I fall. I think that it’s a very, very complicated issue and I think if we’re successful, we’re going to raise those questions.

In a world where these things need to be discussed and people are easily distracted, bringing messages like this to the forefront is essential. Daredevil and Netflix’s programming has continued to do that.  While Bernthal has no information about the state of his spin-off, he’s excited and ready for whatever the future holds.

I’m tremendously excited about it. I look at it as a real joy and a real responsibility and a real honor to play Frank Castle. I feel like he’s in my bones now and he’s in my heart. I’m ready to keep going with him. As far as what this show’s going to be, and what it’s going to be about, and when it’s going to shoot, and where it’s going to shoot and all that, unfortunately I don’t know anything. It’s kind of part and parcel with the way that Marvel works. Information is definitely on a need to know basis. I am nervous, and I just want to do this character and this world justice.

Marvel’s Netflix properties Daredevil and Jessica Jones are currently available on Netflix streaming.  Jon Bernthal appears as  Frank Castle, aka the Punisher in Season 2 of Daredevil.

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