Comic book fans are well aware that Frank Castle did not just wake up one day and decide to start blasting people in the face. The Punisher was born out of tragedy, and the version we’ll be seeing when Daredevil returns to Netflix for its second season will be no exception. Actor Jon Bernthal spoke to Entertainment Weekly about some of what the character has been through.
“He’s a guy who brought the war home with him [in] the worst possible way. There are a lot of iterations of this character and in all of them it’s a man who’s gone through this unbelievable trauma and what’s interesting about our take on him is how this trauma reshapes his own philosophy. I can’t give too much away, but what’s interesting is the way [showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez] have made his story a slow burn. It’s interesting to find this guy at the point we find him.”
The philosophy Bernthal references will constitute one of the major sticking points that leads to his conflict with Matt Murdock. The Punisher and Daredevil aren’t going to see eye to eye, and both of them will find themselves questioning their beliefs as a result.
“I can tell you that this guy, horrible tragic things happen, and we will see how he goes through that. The effect the other characters have on him will push him certain directions. I think once you see these characters collide, it’s tremendously interesting and emotionally gripping as well. It’s going to be a special season. If you thought last season of Daredevil was dark, we’re going to a whole new place.”
Not only will Castle and Murdock experience some challenges to their belief system, but Bernthal is hoping that the audience’s views might be challenged as well.
“One of the things I’m most excited for is I’m hoping the audience will go back and forth. There are things you can identify with and get behind, and there are things when the character pushes it and you can’t get behind him anymore.”
More than anything, what Bernthal hopes may challenge the audience’s perception is the notion of a superhero who relies primarily on ultraviolence to clean the scum off of the streets.
“This is a guy who pushes the envelope. He’s brutal, but he’s coming from a place of unbelievable hurt. And the best thing about the character is he just doesn’t care. It’s a highly personal mission he’s on and if he offends you, it’s completely unimportant to him.”
Bernthal has nothing but praise for his stunt team, who he believes are creating a sense of emotion in every fight scene. He also says that this is important for the story of Frank Castle, who will fall deeper into his role as The Punisher as the story wears on.
“I think the way a character fights and deals with adversity and danger tells huge amounts about the character. As this character develops into what he becomes, he becomes more violent and more raw.”
The training for this role was intense, with Bernthal training alongside members of the same branch of the military in which Castle was enlisted. But while Bernthal put a lot of effort into the physicality of the role, it was the emotional preparation that took the greatest toll on him personally.
“There’s a sense of responsibility and as a father and husband, if I were to lose my family on my watch…I had to put myself in as dark of place as possible the last six months.”
He also says that he got into the role by walking the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, trying to embrace a sense of isolation and shut out all feelings of happiness. Bernthal hopes that his efforts have been successful. In the meantime, he plans to spend some quality time with his family while catching up on his former colleagues’ work on The Walking Dead.
Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle will hit screens when season two of Daredevil premieres on March 18. In the meantime, feel free to head over to Entertainment Weekly for the full interview.