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‘The Punisher’ Jon Bernthal Reflects on ‘The Walking Dead’ Audition and Fate as Shane

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Jon Bernthal has come a long way since his The Walking Dead days. He spoke to IGN about his character Shane Walsh since leaving the show five years ago.

While Shane on the AMC TV show met a similar fate to his comic book counterpart, Bernthal’s stay on the show was longer than expected culminating in his exit in the season two finale, as opposed to the second issue in the comics.

Since The Walking Dead, Bernthal remained busy in film and TV including reuniting with actor Jeffrey DeMunn, who played Dale Horvath on the show; and Frank Darabont, who was the former showrunner (and later sued AMC), on Mob City in 2013. Bernthal’s next highest profile role-to-date is playing Frank Castle/The Punisher for Marvel’s The Defenders universe on Netflix. The Punisher made his debut on the second season of Daredevil and will be on his own show later in 2017.

When Castle’s not being a thorn at Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) side, Bernthal channels the same intensity we saw in Shane on The Walking Dead with far superior weaponry and hand-to-hand combat.

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Bernthal mentioned how he and The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln both auditioned for the role of Shane and how relieved he was when he discovered his ultimate fate from day one. Lincoln ended up cast as the show’s main protagonist, Rick Grimes.

“I knew going in.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 [then showrunner] Frank [Darabont] that I wanted to audition for Shane. That’s what I wanted, and he 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. 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.”

Bernthal joked he could be playing The Punisher far longer than he did with Shane.

“Yeah, until people can’t stand it anymore.”

He also remained optimistic for the character’s future when reminded how three other actors also played the role before him and how fans might appreciate his version more.

“I hope so. I really hope people like it.”

The Punisher comes out to Neflix in 2017.

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Tom Chang
Sci-fi and technology geek since the NES days, Tom loves everything from the cult classics, the contemporary hits to the beast with two backs that is Disney and Marvel. His life's mission is to be the ultimate nerd savant sitting on the iron throne as CEO of Skynet while masquerading as a vigilante at night wearing hockey pads.