In some ways, Marvel’s The Punisher—a guy powered by little more than boundless rage, easy access to guns, and a spirit of classic, all-American murderous industriousness—is the quintessential conservative superhero. That doesn’t mean the Netflix show’s star, Jon Bernthal, has any time for the modern trolls of the internet right-wing, though, bluntly telling any “alt-right” fans of his work that they can promptly go fuck themselves.
That sentiment comes from a much longer interview with Bernthal that appeared in this season’s issue of Esquire, touching on his own (extensive) history with violence, and the strange route that’s slowly brought him to mainstream success, from studying theater in Russia, up through mesmerizingly tense performances in stuff like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Of Wall Street.
The discussion shows Bernthal, who’s been wrestling for years with anger issues and a tendency toward impromptu brawling, keeping an even keel on almost every topic—except for the racists who gleefully hold Frank Castle up as a role model. According to Bernthal, he’s proud to play a character whose symbol appears on the jackets and helmets of American soldiers fighting in foreign countries. But his response to marchers at the “alt-right” protests in Charlottesville last year, who were also seen with the Punisher’s symbol on their jackets, was a lot less diplomatic:
“Fuck them,” Bernthal said.