Jon Bernthal On The Punisher: “Frank Castle Is In My Bones” – Forbes

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 14: Jon Bernthal arrives at Marvel’s “The Punisher” Los Angeles Premiere at … [+] ArcLight Hollywood on January 14, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
Following Jon Bernthal’s performance as “Shane” on AMC’s The Walking Dead, the actor has been on an unrivaled run touting impressive film and television titles.
Soon after his Walking Dead arc came to an epic conclusion in season two of the show (2012), Bernthal went on to get directed by Martin Scorsese in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street and take on the role of Franke Castle, AKA The Punisher, first in season two of Netflix’s Daredevil (2016) and then for two seasons in The Punisher (2017-2019) on the same streaming platform.
His critically acclaimed passion project film Small Engine Repair released in September and last weekend, the Washington D.C. native hit screens in The Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark, playing Tony Soprano’s father “Johnny”. He also recently appeared in an episode of B.J. Novak’s anthology series The Premise titled “Moment of Silence”, now streaming exclusively on FX and Hulu.
In “Moment of Silence”, Jon plays the father of a child killed in a school shooting.
“It certainly was something that I brought a lot of myself to and I poured myself into,” Bernthal told Forbes of his Premise episode via Zoom on Friday. “Any time you play a father who loses a child I think there’s a responsibility there. There’s a responsibility to take that material and take that project and play it with absolute vitality and seriousness.”
Novak wrote and directed Bernthal’s episode of the show.
“I think B.J. is a wonderful writer, I think it was a beautifully-constructed script. I’m really proud of that show,’ Jon added. “I think he did a really wonderful job with it. I think he managed to take this hot-button issue and not make it preachy.
“He digs into the crux of the wound of how important that issue is and the effect that it has on folks, but he’s not spoon-feeding any sort of political view on it and it leaves the question a bit open for interpretation; which I think is kind of like the best art has to offer.”
Related: ‘Kin’ Actor Charlie Cox Talks New Crime Drama And Daredevil
Rumors have been swirling about Jon and former Daredevil co-star Charlie Cox (title role) and their Marvel characters getting launched into either the Marvel Cinematic Universe films or getting the Disney+ treatment with a series for each character.
“Honestly, I have no idea. That isn’t just the standard [answer],” said Bernthal, in response to the rumors. “I just deal with a lot of these things; I’d sort of in a way kind of be the last to know. I just don’t think the question is about whether they’re going to do it, it’s going to be about how they do it and whether we can do it in a way the character and the fans deserve. And again, if the answer is ‘Yes’, that would be amazing.”
Like Daredevil, Marvel Studios would be making a colossal mistake if Jon’s Punisher didn’t end up on the big screen for several MCU installments. The look and the unhinged, ferocious Frank Castle we get from Bernthal has made him one of the most widely-beloved Marvel-related portrayals in years.
Cox recently told Forbes “I don’t know who could do a better version of The Punisher than Jon Bernthal.” The support from his former co-star and fans of his take on the iconic Marvel character aren’t lost on Jon.
“It’s enormously humbling and it just means the world to me,” he said. “Number one, the first reason why I really wanted to be on that show, on Daredevil [was] because I saw Charlie’s monologue in the first episode of the show and I just saw the way in which they were approaching the work. I was like, ‘This is a world I want to play in.’ Then I saw (Vincent) D’Onofrio and I was like, ‘Holy crap. I’ve got to be a part of this.’ Then I dove into who Frank Castle was and The Punisher.
“It’s a character that has had a deep, deep resonance with the comic book community, with the law enforcement community, the military community; these communities I care a deep, deep, deep amount about. I looked at playing Frank as a real responsibility to those communities and if they are behind it and think that I got it right, it’s humbling and I’m full of gratitude for it.
“Look, as far as going on in the future, it’s a character that I really feel like that I have in my bones and in my heart. I’m really grateful I had the opportunity (to play Frank Castle) and what sort of happens in the future isn’t about kind of whether they want to do it or not again; I don’t really prescribe anything to those kinds of decisions.
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 10: Actors Jon Bernthal Charlie Cox attend the “Daredevil” season 2 premiere … [+] at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on March 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
“It’s just about if they do do it, are we going to be able to get it right? Is it going to be dark enough? Is it going to be gritty enough? Are we going to give the fans and the folks that the character means so much to, are we going to give them what they deserve? If the answer is ‘Yes,’ man oh man I would love that.”
Fans have also speculated that Bernthal would make a great Wolverine after Hugh Jackman expressed that he would be hanging up the claws. If for some reason he didn’t move forward as The Punisher, would Bernthal consider taking a stab at Logan?
“Look, the criteria in which I sort of decide what I’m doing next is: Does the script move me?, Who am I working with?, Who is the filmmaker and is that somebody I’m dying to work with? I’m going to hold onto that moving forward no matter what that is.
“I get it, I get that the Marvel questions, you’re asking these questions because it’s super important to a lot of people; people love these characters and I get that and I come to that with absolute respect. What I will tell you again is that Frank Castle is in my bones. Frank Castle is in my bones.
“Beyond anything, I’m a father and I’m a husband and the kernel of Frank is what would happen if someone took them away from me; something that I understand, something that I empathize with. And I have a deep, deep reverence for the military community and I have deep respect for the people that this character means so much to. Beyond that, whatever comes my way I’m going to judge it as it comes and I’d be grateful if anything came my way.”
EMERSON, NJ – SEPTEMBER 17: Jonah Hill, Jon Bernthal and director Martin Scorsese filming on … [+] location for “The Wolf Of Wall Street” on September 17, 2012 in Emerson, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
Whatever his future holds, Jon’s acting and ability to hold his own on a set was on full display in The Wolf of Wall Street. Bernthal went toe-to-toe with A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill while being directed by Scorsese; an experience he’ll never forget.
“Look, it was a huge honor. It’s the mountaintop. I got to work with my favorite director of all time,” Jon said of the film. “That movie and that experience changed the entire way in which I approach work. There was a freedom of expression and a freedom of creativity on that set that was unlike any other set I’ve ever worked on. it was electric, it was dangerous, it was exciting.
“I never really look at this stuff in terms of sort of the career trajectory or what this role is compared to this role, it’s all about who am I working with and how good is the material. You had a Terry Winter script directed by Martin Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it was sort of a no-brainer for me. I’m certainly super glad I was a part of that one.”
HOLLYWOOD – OCTOBER 26: Actors Jon Bernthal and Andrew Lincoln attend the after party for the AMC … [+] premiere of “The Walking Dead” at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 26, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
While Walking Dead catapulted Bernthal after he exited in its second season, the show’s longtime lead Andrew Lincoln remained very much in the constant fold until recent years. Although the series limited Lincoln taking on other projects at times, Jon believes what Andrew accomplished with the groundbreaking series is something sacred.
“First of all, I think Andrew Lincoln’s acting abilities are sublime. I think he’s wonderful. I imagine he’s got no regrets whatever,” Bernthal said. “I think he’s a beautiful artist, a beautiful man, he’s got an unbelievably beautiful family. I think that what Andrew was able to achieve on that show is one of the most iconic characters in television history. That’s an enormously hard thing to achieve.
“That show started out with a six-episode commitment on a network that did not believe in it much and now I think there’s what, four or five spinoff shows based on that show, based on this humble little show that we made in the woods in Atlanta and Andrew Lincoln stays square in the middle for the responsibility for all that success.
“I think he’s sitting pretty and I can’t say it enough… There is no time where I walk onto a set and I don’t think, ‘What would Andrew Lincoln do?’ He had an enormous effect on me as an actor and as a man raising a family in this industry and I only have respect and reverence for him.”

I’ve covered entertainment and sports for outlets like Playboy and the Wall Street Journal. Follow my Twitter: @ScottKingMedia

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