Thomas Jane Reflects On The Positives & Negatives Of THE PUNISHER (2004)

In two weeks, the Gasparilla Film Festival will be bestowing Thomas Jane with their International Career Achievement Award. To showcase Jane's talent, the festival will screen The Punisher. Jane recently spoke with ET about the film. Check it out.

Entertainment Tonight recently caught up with actor, Thomas Jane to discuss some of the more memorable films that he has made. To kick things of the reporter, Jarrett Wieselman, suggests that The Punisher, which debuted almost ten years ago, has a cult following. "Yes, I've heard that from a lot of people," Thomas Jane chimes in. "I'm happy the movie has real fans out there."

The film only pulled in $55 million worldwide at the box office, however, DVD sales were quite strong, adding an additional $60 million, bumping up the overall take to $115 million.

ETonline: When was the last time you watched it?

Jane: I've never really seen the whole thing. I usually sneak out of my premieres; go in the front door and right out the back [laughs]. I'm not a fan of watching my work. When I was a young actor, I watched myself so I could figure out what kind of animal I was. Billy Bob Thornton told me every actor needs to figure out what kind of animal they are so they can be that animal, but I don't think I've figured that out yet. I guess I want to be all the animals.

ETonline: What do you recall from making The Punisher?

Jane: It was hard, but rewarding. We didn't have any problems making the movie, although we tried to make Tampa look as menacing as it could ... which was troubling at times. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time in Florida, but creatively I wasn't a fan of making The Punisher in Florida. I never thought that went together very well. I thought there were better places for us to shoot the thing, but once I was down there, everyone was so great.

ETonline: In retrospect, the movie seems to have embraced a superhero aesthetic that didn't really become popular until Christopher Nolan rebooted Batman. Do you think it would be more successful if released today?

Jane: I think we were the victim of Marvel's success with more cartoon-y superhero movies. There was a strong desire to keep some of that cartoon element in our movie, but I really wanted it to be dark and I think most Punisher fans did too. But people hadn't really cracked the idea that a comic book movie didn't have to look like a comic book yet. Without trying to toot my own horn, I feel like I was very instrumental in fighting for more realistic version of The Punisher. I remember bringing in Tim Bradstreet's very dark comic book covers to production meetings and saying this is what we have to make the movie look like. I won some of those battles and I lost others because there really was no precedent. It was a product of its time. There was no Dark Knight for these guys to lean on, so I'm happy that I got as much dark realism into the movie. All that said, I still think the fight that Kevin Nash and I put together set to opera music is a really entertaining piece of work.

ETonline: Last year you reprised the role in a super dark online short, Dirty Laundry (watch below). What fueled that?

Jane: I'd been talking about my vision of The Punisher for years, and I finally hit on the idea of a short film that could show people my ideas. Then it became about finding the perfect guys to bring that vision to life, for me, the ideal guy was Phil Joanou. I happened to have met him a few months prior to landing on this idea, so he was the first guy I called. He really got on board. Chad St. John wrote my favorite script I've ever read called Motor City, which was basically a 100 page action film with no dialogue. It was a piece of brilliance, so we hatched what became Dirty Laundry, which was very satisfying because I didn't have to explain very much what I was talking about. We all liked the same stuff, had the same reference points and it was a great lesson for me. The success of it was vindicating. It felt good that my version of the character resonated with people.

ETonline: Can you envision playing Frank Castle ever again?

Jane: It was sort of my farewell to the character. I just wanted to get that out.

THE PUNISHER (2004) was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh ("Kill the Irishman"), from a screenplay written by Hensleigh and Michael France. The cast included: Thomas Jane as Frank Castle / The Punisher, John Travolta as Howard Saint, Roy Scheider as Frank Castle, Sr., Will Patton as Quentin Glass, Rebecca Romijn as Joan, Laura Harring as Livia Saint and Ben Foster as Spacker Dave. The film earned $54 million at the worldwide box office, against a budget of $33 million.

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