This article has spoilers for Marvel’s The Punisher.
Ben Barnes might look familiar if you’re a fan of Westworld, where he plays Logan. The actor has signed on to play Billy Russo in Marvel’s The Punisher, an ex-marine and best friend of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) who now owns a civilian security contractor company called Anvil. He is smart, handsome and seems to really care about his fellow vets… and unless you read comics, you might even buy all of that. And if you do read comics, every time someone mentions how ‘pretty’ he is… you know the tension is getting ratcheted up a bit more to the inevitable.
Barnes spoke to EW.com about playing one of the series bad guys, how he handled the role and the characters fate.
When asked about how he approached playing a character like Billy and his relationship with Frank:
I made a decision very early on, while we were shooting the first episode, that Billy had an admiration for Frank and a love for Frank, and that maybe he was the only person on the planet Billy genuinely cares about. He just doesn’t care about him as much as he cares about himself.
He also has a romantic relationship with Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), but was any of that real?
I think they’re both using each other, but I think Madani is absolutely torn. She’s a good person, she’s one of the moral compasses of the show, and from my point of view, Billy succeeds in getting Madani to genuinely care about him. But I don’t think it’s possible for anyone like Billy to have a healthy romantic relationship because he’ll always put himself first. He doesn’t understand what it means to make that kind of sacrifice.
As much as this is a Punisher story, this is also an origin story for Billy Russo on his journey to becoming Jigsaw, the classic Punisher villain:
It’s interesting, you know, I always make parallels to the Joker character in Batman, where he’s the antagonist that can’t be killed. There’s no question that Frank has the desire to kill Billy and that he’s never had trouble killing anybody before, but there’s this combination of having felt so deeply for him and knowing there’s something in Billy that is maybe good at his core. Jon played it in this very interesting way. Billy seems finished, but in Billy’s mind, it’s just the beginning. I don’t know the beginning of what …. There was a lot of talk in the finale about, when he wakes up, who will he be, what will he remember? That’s something I’m definitely very interested in finding out. When a character who represents narcissism has the way they see themselves taken away, he’s going to have to take a very long look at himself, and I’m intrigued to see what comes of that.
So, for those fans who knew who Billy Russo really was, every time they mention his pretty face, it’s a reminder of what is going to come. And as the episodes ticked away and Billy’s role became larger and larger, you knew it was bound to happen. When it finally did, knowing it was coming didn’t make it any less intense. If anything, the building up over the 13 episodes made it even more so.
And in the end of the day, Ben Barnes portrayal of Billy Russo aka Jigsaw is right up there with Vincent D’onofrio as Wilson Fisk and David Tennant as Kilgrave the Purple Man.
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