LRM EXCLUSIVE: The Punisher Actor Ben Barnes Originally Pushed For An Uglier Version Of Jigsaw


The Punisher‘s first season did a pretty solid job of setting up the relationship between Frank Castle and Billy Russo. It set the betrayal so deep that you definitely cheered along with Frank as he bashed this guy’s face in, which would then inevitably lead to Jigsaw, the character. In the comics, the character of Jigsaw is a fan favorite one — and as you’ve likely seen in the comics, he’s often quite the ugly character, with his face little more than a tapestry of what it used to be.

However, when audiences saw the first footage for The Punisher Season 2, it was hard not to notice that actor Ben Barnes’ take on the character wasn’t nearly as ugly as his counterpart on the printed page. With that in mind, our own Gig Patta asked the actor if he wanted an uglier version of the character.

“I was pushing in the beginning for [uglier],” Barnes told LRM. “We were talking about pulling an eye down and having a lip curl up, adding more scars. I did get an additional two (Laughs). But we had a really interesting long chat, and it kind of speaks to what I was just talking about, you know, grounding it in something. Logistically not only did he have these 12 hours of surgery…it was about something more than that, it was about this TBI, this traumatic brain injury, that he received from Frank, albeit not in service of his country, but here is this vet that receives this traumatic brain injury.”

Barnes added: “And then I think that a lot of what I was reading, the interesting articles about art therapy masks and all this stuff, is that so many people come back with so many injuries that are inside. They’re inside. And we always try to ground this show in things that are military and have two feet on the ground, and I think having him wander around like a sort of gruesome cartoon makes it all about narcissism and all about the aesthetic. And I think we wanted to make it about the Jigsaw in his brain and about how fractious that is in putting it back together. And he might see something when he looks in the mirror but it’s not about other people reactions to his look and I think that plays into the much more grounded and cerebral version of that character for me.”

RELATED – The Punisher Teaser Trailer: Jigsaw Is Coming

That’s certainly something these Netflix series have done from the very beginning. They’ve taken a lot of potentially cartoony things and given them a real grounding in the real world. Earlier in Gig’s talk with Barnes, he discussed what he felt was the responsibility of a show like The Punisher:

“It’s definitely not a cut and paste version from the comic books. You’ve gotta balance serving fans of the Punisher itself and of those comic books and of the history of that character, and I think [actor Jon Bernthal] does an amazing job of kind of being really honest about what the character is and should be. You’ve gotta balance that with a responsibility to make new and interesting and fresh kind of TV, because there are so many shows and you’ve got to kind of keep flipping things on their heads. Particularly for me, personally, this season, it was about me reinventing what Billy Russo becoming Jigsaw is actually about. Can I ground this in something real? We’ve had very comic book versions of The Punisher in various films, and I think this is the version of 2019. To try and find motivations for everything that every character does so it really resonates of just a drama outside of the fact that it’s a superhero show.”

Do you think they succeed in making this more than just a typical superhero TV show and do you agree that there is a need to update and ground things in the real world? Let us know your thoughts down below!

And be sure to keep an eye out for our full interviews with stars Jon Bernthal, Georgia Whigham, Ben Barnes, and Amber Rose Revah later this week!

The Punisher Season 2 hits Netflix this Friday!

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