Speaking with EW, The Punisher star Jon Bernthal shared how he gets into the mentality of Frank Castle, a Marine Corps veteran turned gun-toting vigilante in the wake of his family's brutal murder at the hands of criminals.
"I did [The Punisher] both this year and last year, but I’m on my own for, like, the first four months of shooting, so what that basically means is I’m away from my wife and my three young kids," Bernthal said. "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."
"I also think there’s something disingenuous about, you know, portraying this character after being at the nightclub all night," Bernthal shared. "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."
Bernthal has kept busy since first arriving as the Marvel Comics anti-hero in the sophomore season of Daredevil, appearing on the big screen in The Accountant, Wind River, Baby Driver, Sweet Virginia, and Shot Caller. When asked how he chooses projects between journeying back into Frank Castle's psyche and why he doesn't "go for something a little lighter," Bernthal pointed to perhaps an unexpected answer: fear.
"Listen, I love the work, and I really want to work on the best piece of material that’s made available to me," Bernthal answered. "With most of these parts, it’s just that they really scare me, and I want to try to find the thing that scares me the most, where I feel like, 'I couldn’t do that, and maybe somebody else could maybe do it better than me.' I really do think it’s important when you play a character like Frank to exercise your muscles and get out of that, and to work with different people. But yeah, it’s been crazy."
"I think there’s a bit of Frank in all of us," Bernthal said when asked why the killer has a passionate fan following. "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."
"It’s a hundred times worse, I’ll be honest," Bernthal joked about the pressure in going from Daredevil co-star to series lead. "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."
Bernthal spoke on The Punisher's military component earlier this summer, where he said the "Frank Castle that was in Daredevil is not in Punisher.” Now that Frank has avenged his murdered family, Bernthal said the character is searching for purpose and teased the series will get into the most dark and brutal place of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his wife and children, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) uncovers a conspiracy that runs far deeper than New York’s criminal underworld. Now known throughout the city as The Punisher, he must discover the truth about injustices that affect more than his family alone.
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