Later this year, Jon Bernthal will reprise his role as Frank Castle in The Punisher on Netflix, after spending a season playing off of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil. Even before Bernthal took over the role of Marvel’s popular antihero, he made a name for himself as one of the original stars of The Walking Dead. Bernthal portrayed Shane Walsh, the best friend of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes, and a character who died very early on in the comics. On television, Shane lived much longer than he did in the original story, but he was still doomed. According to Bernthal, he went into the series knowing full well that his time on the show would be relatively short.
“I knew going in,” said Bernthal during an interview with IGN. “During the audition process, all the men they were looking at had to audition for both Rick and Shane, and I was very clear with Frank [Darabont] that I wanted to audition for Shane…That’s what I wanted, and [Darabont] said, ‘You know he’s not going to last…’ and I said, ‘That’s the character.’ The guy had a built-in beginning, middle and end, and often times you don’t get that as a character. I sort of prefer that.”
“I loved knowing that he was going to die,” continued Bernthal. “I loved knowing that he was going to lose his mind. I loved being able to star in it, from the absolute opposite end of the spectrum — being the best friend possible and loving this man so much and knowing that I have to go to the place where he was going to go. I thought it was such a great opportunity and I’m super grateful to Frank Darabont for giving it to me.”
This may be the first time that Bernthal has mentioned that he and Lincoln auditioned for each others’ parts, and the show would have been quite different if their roles were reversed. But probably no less successful. That said, it’s very likely that Bernthal’s experience on The Walking Dead helped pave the way for him to headline his own Marvel series on Netflix. And unlike Shane, Frank Castle isn’t likely to die after only two seasons.
Netflix has not set a release date for The Punisher, but it is expected to premiere later this year.
Would you have liked to have seen Bernthal’s audition as Rick Grimes? Let us know in the comment section below!