Why Playing The Punisher is ‘Sacred’ to Jon Bernthal
The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal and Giorgia Whigham describe their characters’ journeys in Season 2.
Frank Castle is back in the second season of The Punisher, the Netflix/Marvel series that followed the introduction of the classic comic book character in Season 2 of Daredevil. Played to perfection by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), the former Marine turned vigilante found himself in the debut season of his own series seeking vengeance on every single person who had something to do with the deaths of his family — and succeeding in brutal fashion.
As Season 2 opens, Castle has been given a reprieve by the US intelligence community thanks to the bloody efficiency of his actions. He heads out on the road, where he begins to achieve a modicum of peace and even lets himself enjoy the company of others. But that tranquility is soon shattered when Frank finds himself protecting a young woman named Amy Bendix (Giorgia Whigham) from a literal army of assassins — and realizes that perhaps peace is not in his future.
Further Reading: The Punisher Season 2 Review (Spoiler-Free)
“One of the books that really influenced (showrunner) Steve Lightfoot in writing this show was Tribe by Sebastian Junger,” says Bernthal in our interview below, about Castle’s inability to rest the demons that haunt him. “It’s a book that I love and it really speaks to the toll on soldiers and vets when they come home…the demons really come and the hardships really come when you’re at peace and off-mission and you’re not clear of what to do and how to fit in.”
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While Castle cannot help but do the right thing when he sees someone both in danger and way overmatched, he’s also not prepared for the many layers and secrets that Amy herself holds. “She’s already an established character from the comics, but Steve’s idea was that we’re just going to have it be a loosely based version of that Amy Bendix,” says Whigham. “So in that instance it really cool that I got to go into that platform that was already there but kind of build my own version of Amy.”
This season of The Punisher brings back characters like Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) and Agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), while introducing a ruthless new villain in the form of John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart). And while Bernthal admits that he doesn’t know if there is a Season 3 in the show’s future — especially in light of Netflix’s recent cancellation of fellow Marvel series Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist — he’s proud of what he’s done as Frank Castle to this point.
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“I think that this character’s existed for a long time,” muses Bernthal. “Not only is it a character that has resonated with the comic book audience, but with the military community and the law enforcement community, and that’s something I find sacred. It’s been a huge honor to play him. I know that this story will continue and should continue in some way, and whether we’re a part of that or not, it’s been an honor so far.”
Season 2 of The Punisher will be available on Netflix starting Friday (January 18).
Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye