Exclusive: Frank Castle Speaks
IGN talks to actor Ray Stevenson about playing The Punisher in Warzone.
by IGN Staff
February 27, 2008 - IGN recently spoke with Ray Stevenson... No, not the country singer that sang all those crazy songs in the '80s... that's Ray Stevens! This is Ray Stevenson, the guy who plays comic book anti-hero The Punisher/Frank Castle in the new movie.
We asked Ray about his experience working on Punisher: War Zone, at which point he dropped to the floor and did 50 push-ups while holding a semi-automatic rifle up to our head. We promised never to make fun of his name again. This is the conversation that followed...
IGN: You're about to embark on what I'm sure many people hope will be the first of several great Punisher films. What was it like tackling the character?
RAY STEVENSON: It was fantastic. It was beyond any of my expectations. I didn't watch the Thomas Jane film beforehand. We were taking a completely new slant. We weren't doing numbers. It's not Punisher 3; it's Punisher: War Zone. We're going exclusively for the MAX series with Garth Ennis writing and Tim Bradstreet doing the cover illustrations. That was the look the New York, night-time predator, with all the incredible, dark psyche that goes along with him. Certainly not a superhero, but an anti-hero.
IGN: And again a strong character with legitimate depth.
STEVENSON: This guy is really on a trajectory. Things have happened in his life; he's a vigilante. Some people are beyond redemption and it doesn't matter how many criminal dollars you have to buy the very best criminal lawyers if you're beyond redemption, that's it. One of the lines from Garth: "If you work for the devil, you better be prepared to die for him." When you really get behind and underneath that, it's a very dark place to be. It's a very human feeling, but to actually systematically go about it as a mission as a job of work you know that you're damned. Every choice you make only damns you deeper. There's no light at the end of your tunnel, but you're doing it so that other people can live in that light.
IGN: Would you be ready to don the trench-coat and t-shirt again?
STEVENSON: Hopefully, we'll get a franchise. I'd be delighted to play Frank again. We've opened him with this one; we've opened up wounds. It was a very interesting journey as an actor because it really does raise some quite severe moral and social issues. The state can still kill people, but we can't license individuals to kill people. We've advanced, as it were. Yet if somebody harmed my son, I would absolutely stop their seed. I don't think I'd be big enough, or magnanimous enough, to allow due process. And if they got off, how would I feel then? But where is the advancement if we constantly revert back to eye-for-an-eye, to the ancient law of retribution? Are you happy that he's out there, knowing full well that you'll never be a target? But what if you transgress? Where does he draw his line? And if we entertain, and at the same time hold up a mirror, then we're in
IGN: Jigsaw is obviously the villain with this film, but what other Punisher villains would you like to go up against?
STEVENSON: There's obviously Barracuda. He's indestructible. It's that old paradox the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. But I think that the most interesting thing for me is that Frank is constantly coming up against Frank. He's always his own greatest adversary. Hopefully, it doesn't sound too patsy. It's not meant to be diversionary. Jigsaw has been an amazing adversary, but in the long scheme of things, Frank still has a core of what it really means to be human. It's just a question of what constitutes a soul of what is good and what is bad and so his greatest adversary of all time with always be himself.
IGN: So what's next?
STEVENSON: I'm just about to go up to New Orleans to start a movie called Cirque du Freak with Selma Hayek, John C. Riley and Ken Wantanabe. I'm playing the lead vampire the lead bad-guy This will be great fun. Here I get a chance to play a bourgeoning Stalin or Hitler. It should be such a romp. It's creature, it's carnival, it's traveling street show. It should be a hell of a ride!