While Jon Bernthal seems to be settling into playing Frank Castle with ease, it turns out that the actor nearly turned down his starring role in Netflix’s The Punisher.
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe already boasts some pretty impressive talent, and while most actors would jump at the chance to play anyone under that umbrella, it sounds like the former The Walking Dead star wasn’t quite so quick to bite Kevin Feige’s hand off to play the take-no-prisoners vigilante.
Speaking to Variety‘s “Remote Controlled” podcast, Bernthal revealed that suiting up for the world of superheroes and villains had never really appealed to him:
“Fully candid, being part of a superhero franchise was not something that I really had an ambition towards; it wasn’t really on my radar. A lot of the people that I really admire, actors that I really look up to have avoided that whole thing.”
Thankfully, a dive into the pages of Marvel comic books gave Bernthal a taste of what Castle’s motives were, and the character’s haunted past seemed to strike a chord with him:
“He didn’t have any super (powers); he didn’t have a mask. He was a grieving father and husband who was reeling from this unbelievably traumatic event. There was something about that that scared the you-know-what out of me and left me intrigued.”
First appearing as a thorn in the side of Spider-Man, the Punisher has gone on to become an antihero of sorts and crossed paths with the good and the bad of Marvel’s universe. There have been several attempts to bring the Punisher to life in live-action, and Bernthal is just the latest in a line of men to stick a skull motif on their shirt. First appearing in Season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil, Bernthal is currently heading up his own TV-MA-rated solo show for The Punisher on the streaming giant.
Joining the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, and Ray Stevenson in the title role, Bernthal’s inclusion in the MCU hopes to take Castle in a new direction and learn from the mistakes of the character’s past. Away from the candy-coated world of the MCU movies, The Punisher showrunner Steve Lightfoot can really let Bernthal sink his teeth into the bloody antics of Castle and his no-nonsense alias.
With none of the Punisher movies fairing particularly well in critical reviews or at the box office, Netflix’s latest offering looks poised to define itself as the definitive screen portrayal of the character so far. With Season 2 looking increasingly likely, don’t expect Bernthal to put down his heavy artillery just yet. It might not quite be the big screen outings that Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., and Scarlett Johansson enjoy, but Bernthal seems to be enjoying his time taking it slowly just as much.
The Punisher season 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Season 2 has yet to be officially confirmed.
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