Actors have a lot of reasons for why they decide to take on specific roles. When it came to Jon Bernthal and the role of The Punisher, he told Variety during their podcast Remote Controlled that he likes roles that scare him.
"I always try to gravitate to stuff that scares me," he says. "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."
In a world filled with real life violence there was a chance people could take The Punisher the wrong way. Maybe even idealize him but Bernthal wasn't there to make Frank Castle someone to look up to or even someone to like.
"I'm not interested in making him likable. I'm not interested in making him relatable," he says. "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."
Comic book fans are very specific when it comes to the portrayal of the characters that they love. Bernthal, an alum of The Walking Dead, is no stranger to trying to meet fan expectations.
"I've become plagued with worry about it," he says. There's something about the act of reading a comic. The audience has to infuse and fill the breaks between the captions within their own imaginations. There's a real sense of ownership there. You have to honor that sense of ownership. You don't want to get it wrong."
The Punisher has been generally well received by audiences, with most people saying the faults are not with Bernthal himself. He's found a very grounded but fascinating version of Frank Castle and brought him to life on screen. He might not be likable, and you shouldn't agree with with his methods, but you also can't look away when he's on screen.
Summary: After the murder of his family, Frank Castle becomes a vigilante known as "the Punisher", who aims to fight crime by any means necessary.
The Punisher, from showrunner Steve Lightfoot, stars Jon Bernthal, Jason R. Moore, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Michael Nathanson, Jamie Ray Newman, and Amber Rose Revah. It is streaming to Netflix now.