There are a handful of characters that Marvel has cast over the last decade that you just look at and say, “Nailed it.” Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange. Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa… and Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle.
Bernthal has a rugged edge to him, so much so that you can see him having spent time in the marines. You might even buy that he’d go on a killing spree to avenge his family. Bernthal recently talked with EW.com about the upcoming Marvel’s The Punisher series, how he stays in character while shooting, what playing the role means to him.
He starts by explaining where Frank is now, after Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2:
“He’s a man on a mission again [in The Punisher], and what [Punisher showrunner and Hannibal alum Steve] Lightfoot is trying to do is ask the question “What do you do when that’s over? What do you find out about yourself when you realize there’s nothing left? What is his purpose?” There’s an introspective bent in trying to figure that out. He finds something to fight for, something new to believe in.”
As for how he prepares for playing Frank Castle and staying in that character:
“I don’t socialize, I’m not out at restaurants or bars or going to movies or anything like that… There are some actors that can be in the middle of talking about sports or having a hot dog and then jump in front of a camera and do the scene, and I’m just not that guy. I wish I was.
That’s part of it, but I also think there’s something disingenuous about, you know, portraying this character after being at the nightclub all night. I want to honor him and the fans to whom he means so much. I really want to get this right for them, and the pressure’s on.”
On Frank teaming up with a very different character like Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) in the new series:
“Good drama is when you take these hard life characters and force them to interact, and that’s precisely what [Steve] did with Micro and Frank. He forces these guys who are so unbelievably different, who operate on such different planes, and have such opposite skill sets [together]. Interestingly, they have very similar paths as far as their families, and as far as the predicament they’re in, and they’re sort of forced to work together.”
Bernthal share what we can expect to see during the season:
“During this show, nobody is who they appear to be… This season is much darker as it goes, it gets darker and darker and more visceral. The show takes you on this journey of Frank becoming more and more human again and then shutting off and shutting off and going back to what works for him, and the place where he kind of belongs, and I think that’s a place of solitude and of darkness and destruction. It’s going to get into as dark and as brutal a place as you’ve ever seen in the Marvel world, I can promise you that.”
On why he thinks the character, who is basically a killer, has such a strong fan following:
“I think there’s a bit of Frank in all of us. We all go through bouts of darkness and regret and shame, and we mess up and we make mistakes, so I think to really zero in on that and to dig into that wound is what makes him interesting… But if there’s one thing I want to get right for this show, it’s that I want to be completely respectful of the military community and the people that this character means so much to. I just really want to get that right. More than anything, Frank is a soldier.”
And finally, how he feels being the star of the show:
“It’s a hundred times worse, I’ll be honest. [Laughs] It might be the Frank Castle inside me, but I’m always thinking things could be headed for the worst. I’m horrified all the time. Look, there was an unbelievable response to the Frank we put out there in Daredevil, and it means the world to me, and I’m so grateful, and I do not want to let people down.”
The fan reaction to his appearance in Daredevil was extremely positive. If they can carry that into this series, then I think Bernthal will have nothing to worry about.
Marvel’s The Punisher will be on Netflix this fall.