Jon Bernthal talks to Esquire about pit bulls, being a gun owner & the alt-right
I only put Jon Bernthal’s name to his face quite recently. I’ve heard people talk about him, obviously, but I never really paid attention or cared. Then I watched Wind River – he had a miniscule part which was only filmed in a day, apparently, and it was basically a star turn, one of the best-acted cameos I’ve ever seen. Bernthal currently stars in Netflix’s The Punisher, playing a Marvel “superhero” with no supernatural special powers. He’s just an angry guy who kills people with whatever he can get his hands on. To celebrate and promote this show, Esquire gave Bernthal the February cover. And woooow, this profile is CRAZY. I came into it cold, not knowing anything about him. He is a man who has committed a lot of violence in his real life. His nose has been broken fourteen times. He lived and breathed brutality and violence for much of his life, much of it violence that he f–king started. You can read the profile here.
Currently, he seems to have chilled out and he lives a quiet life with his young family. But he will still talk (brag?) about all of the violence and craziness in his life, like how to best subdue an angry/attacking pit bull – by putting your fingers up the dog’s ass – or how he threatened Oliver Stone with violence one time. My favorite part – I guess? – was this passage about guns, The Punisher and the alt-right:
The Punisher is so brutal that its debut was pushed back a month because of the massacre in Las Vegas in October. Not surprisingly, Bernthal is conflicted about the role that will likely define his career. He confessed that he spent days before we first talked thinking about how to address his character’s obsession with guns. The more he thought about it, and the more people he talked to, the more uncertain he became.
“I’m a gun owner,” Bernthal told me one afternoon in Ojai. “I have a gun in my house to keep my family safe. I’m trained in that gun’s use. I know how to keep it away from my kids, and I know how to use it if I need to.”
With Boss [his pit bull] at his feet, he went back and forth talking about the cowardice of those who hold absolute positions on either side of the issue. “Should there be a way that a guy with mental issues like the a–hole in Texas can’t get guns? Absolutely. We have to have a dialogue, and that’s not happening.” I noted that the Punisher’s symbol, a skull with long fangs, has been spotted on military helmets in Iraq and biker jackets, and was seen on the shoulders of alt-right protesters at the white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I feel honored to play a guy who people putting their life on the line identify with,” Bernthal said. And the alt-righters? “F–k them.”
Well, that’s good at least. This profile was like a window into Angry White Guyism, and Bernthal comes across – at various moments – like a rebel without a cause. He came from an affluent, educated DC family, he went to good schools, his brothers went on to become good people who don’t answer every question with their fists. Bernthal spent much of his life with a hair-trigger temper and a chip on his shoulder… about nothing in particular. The anger and rage of the white dude from a good family, you know? It seems like he would be ripe for becoming some kind of poster child for the alt-right. So good on him for saying that they should f–k off at least.
Cover courtesy of Esquire, additional photo courtesy of WENN.