Jon Bernthal Talks ‘Punisher’ Series and Frank Castle Role

Jun 28, 2016


Jon Bernthal portryal of the Punisher was easily one of the best highlights of Daredevil season two, and Marvel TV noticed this as well quickly green lighting a spinoff series of his own.

While speaking to Deadline Jon gave some vague updates on the status of the series along with how he decided on the role of Frank Castle, also how he developed his own take on it.

“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.”

Of course, Jon has been mum on the subject of the series even when he knew it was going to get picked-up, so playing coy is likely how he’s going to be about the upcoming spinoff.

Writer and producer Steve Lightfoot in Cockermouth.

Writer and producer Steve Lightfoot in Cockermouth.

Marvel has hired British writer-producer Steve Lightfoot to showrun the series, he’s best known for his stellar work on the recently cancelled Hannibal. Lightfoot of course knows how to balance violence, crime and drama because of this experience, making him an excellent creative choice to head-up the series.

One detail we do have thanks to the ending of Daredevil, is that Frank might be looking to hook-up with arms dealer and potential pal David Lieberman aka Micro.


I’d personally love to see Jonah Hill in the role since the two squared-off well in The Wolf of Wall Street and the two-time Oscar nominated Hill isn’t opposed to smaller projects, along with TV work on the upcoming series Maniac. Jonah also just happens to play an arms dealer in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie War Dogs. Micro wouldn’t even need to be a huge part of the series, and really only needs to show-up when Castle needs to resupply or gain new intel.

The rest of the interview focuses on his thoughts on the character itself.

What first grabbed you about the role of Frank Castle/The Punisher?

“I’ve been totally upfront about this. I don’t think that I ever had any real longing or clear conscious aspirations to jump into the whole superhero genre. It was never really something that I pursued. What grabbed me about Frank is that he’s the quintessential opposite of that. He has no superpowers. He’s unbelievably human. It’s humanity that makes him such a force to be reckoned with. He’s a man who suffered immeasurable loss. The Frank Castle that we find in DaredevilSeason 2 is not a guy who’s out there trying to rid Hell’s Kitchen of the criminal element. He’s a brokenhearted, completely isolated man who’s lost his wife and kids. He’s reeling, he’s filled with shame and remorse and regret and pain, and he’s a man on a mission. He’s trying to find these people who have taken his heart from him, and he’s trying to kill them, as brutal a way as possible. I think that’s as sort of old and classic and human a tale as possible. I’ve said it before, I don’t think that I would ever begin to be able to step into these shoes and take on this role if I wasn’t a father and a husband myself. To really, really understand what it means to love somebody, to love people more than you love yourself, and to willingly give your life for them in a heartbeat. Until you really understand that, I don’t think you can begin to understand what it would be like to lose that love. I just think for me at this time in my life with three young kids and a relatively new family, it was something that really scared me. It’s always been a mantra of mine. In art, if it scares you, run to it. That’s where you’ve got to go.”

In prepping for the role, you spent time alone away from your family–why did you need to do that?

“I think it absolutely deserves 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 to the members of the American military who have worn the Punisher insignia on their battle armor and have fought and died for our country. I don’t think it would be fair to the members of law enforcement that have adopted this character, and the millions of fans it means so much to. 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.”

Why do you think Netflix makes a good home for Marvel projects?

“It’s an absolute joy working for Netflix. I love their model. There’s no better system to deliver a story. It lets you be incredibly bold with your storytelling. 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. I think with a character like Frank Castle, it’s really important to go all the way. When he has a moment of brutality, to make it fully brutal, and then try to explain what he did with the regret and the remorse and the shame. Let that seep in a couple episodes down the road. But to try to play the brutality and shame at the same time, I think it’s not real. I really love the Netflix model, and I think they’re really on to something.”

What are your thoughts on playing a character who uses guns so much, in light of the current debate on gun control?

“Look, what I think should happen is I think that one of the most notable things that art can do is hold a mirror to society and make you ask questions. I think that if you’re asking a question, then we’re doing our job. I think that’s the point. I think what’s really interesting about Daredevil Season 2, and as far as the issue with guns, and guns in America, and guns in the streets, and guns for justice, and all these things–what’s interesting about that is I think that wherever you fall on the gun control debate, 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.”

We don’t exactly have a release date or start date for Punisher, but it’s possible if they move the Punisher production outside of New York City to possibly Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami or L.A., there’s a strong chance that it could happen a lot sooner than we are expecting.

Have you seen this:
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Marvel TV and Netflix are committed to shooting Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders in NYC. However, future shows might want to branch-out from that one setting to give these characters room to breathe. Rumored second wave series like Ghost Rider and Blade don’t exactly need to be New York stories.


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