'The Punisher's Jon Bernthal Shares Incredible Tips for Actors

Jon Bernthal shares his approach to acting, and why he loves supporting roles.

Since The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal has become one of Hollywood’s biggest leading actors. Now, Bernthal is working on possibly his biggest production yet, The Punisher. Bernthal stars in the Marvel Netflix series as a take-no-prisoners anti-hero. In an interview with The Independent, Bernthal spoke about his approach to his acting craft and how he gets invested into his character in order to have a better performance.

Ultimately, Bernthal says his biggest concern to a character is authenticity.

He explains, “For me, this job, what I do, I strive for authenticity. Not just for the movie watchers but for people who the story is about. During Fury, I hope people who are tank operators would look at that and relate. When I play a small-town police officer in a Georgia town, I want those police officers to buy that. What that requires is being granted access to the people who are like that. Some of the best relationships I’ve made in my career are with those people filmmakers bring on board, to teach you the tricks of the trade. There are cops in LA that I’m still super close with, a best friend who’s a Navy seal who I worked with. When somebody opens up their life like that, it’s unbelievably humbling.”

He explains that it is a time-consuming experience. But, that is a sacrifice that Bernthal is willing to make to make his acting stand out from his competition.

He continues, “I’m enormously busy, no question about it. I do this for a living and I’ve built a home from it. My mantra is ‘be where you are while you’re there’. So, when I’m making a movie, I’m in 100 percent. I don’t stop for anything. I don’t take breaks, get drunk, go to bars. I’m packing things in the whole time. When there are people to meet to build that authenticity, I’m there. Same when I’m with my family. There is no cell phone, no meetings, half-in, half-out, I’m with them 100 percent. That’s the only way I know how to live right now. My own personal happiness is dictated by how much I’m with that philosophy. If I’m not living that, I’m unhappy. ‘

Even though he landed a major leading role on The Punisher, Bernthal is known for his more supporting roles. However, he does not see a difference between the two.

He explains,  “What I got to do in Wind River, in Sicario – where I pop up for just one scene – I’m just as grateful for that as Frank Castle in The Punisher. I came from the Moscow Art Theatre School where they coined the phrase ‘there’s no small part for a small actor’. What I love about these small parts is they really have a sense of history to them, a sense of you can believe this character existed before the scene and will exist after – unless they get killed! These characters really add to the tapestry of a film, and if you can bring something authentic you make the world seem real.”

Bernthal sees the fact he can play a supporting role in so many projects helps him not get typecast.

He says, “There have been some things that would have been splashier, bigger projects career-wise. There’s nothing I have done that I regret, nothing I wish I had. Honestly, I’m not here to make a huge splash. One of the drawbacks of playing The Punisher would be the high exposure. There’s a real downside to that as an actor… Having those splashier roles can be the enemy sometimes. You have to reinvent and challenge yourself.”

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