The recent release of The Punisher on Netflix has given its star, Jon Bernthal, an opportunity to share his experience with curious fans in an interview with Variety. Playing Frank Castle is a demanding role, and Bernthal wasn’t immediately into the idea of portraying a comicbook hero. “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,” Bernthal said. “A lot of the people that I really admire, actors that I really look up to have avoided that whole thing.”
However, the actor jumped at the chance to play Castle as he learned more about the character and his frightening attributes. “He didn’t have any super (powers); he didn’t have a mask,” he said. “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.”
Bernthal associated strongly with the character’s willingness to defend those he cared about, whatever the cost, and further elaborated on why its scariness attracted him. “I always try to gravitate to stuff that scares me,” he said. “I love my wife and my kids more than myself. I’d willingly give my life for them. Until you understand love like that, you can understand what it would be like to lose it. Just that kernel of an idea, it scared me.”
It was Bernthal’s intention to bring the brutality of The Punisher to the Netflix series, giving his comrades in The Defenders no chance to sway him into their ranks. “I’m not interested in making him likable. I’m not interested in making him relatable,” he said. “If there was any back-and-forth with me with the powers that be on my show that’s where the crux of any argument lay, in saying let’s say bold. He’s a guy who’s living in darkness. He’s not trying to win people over.”
It’s not clear if The Punisher will be given a second season on Netflix. Not even showrunner Steve Lightfoot is entirely certain if Bernthal will return to explore the story of Frank Castle.
“No, I genuinely don’t know how the Netflix system works with making those calls, and I assume once they do [make a call] they’ll tell Marvel and Marvel will tell me and we’ll jump back to it,” Lightfoot said in an interview. “But I’m very excited to do so. I think we left both Frank and Billy in places where there are so many ways to jump off from if that second season comes. We can do anything with them, in truth.”
The Punisher is currently streaming on Netflix.