The Punisher star Jon Bernthal has a blunt message for his character’s alt-right fans, as well as some thoughts about gun ownership and gun control.
The former Walking Dead actor graces the cover of Esquire’s winter issue and confessed to being a bit difficult to work with on the set. “Ask people on set and they’ll say I’m difficult,” he said. “But it’s not about my trailer or the food; it’s always about making the role make sense.”
When asked about the Punisher symbol being spotted on military helmets in Iraq and biker jackets — as well as seen on the shoulders of alt-right protesters at the white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, the actor initially replied: “I feel honored to play a guy who people putting their life on the line identify with.”
And when asked about the alt-righters specifically? “F— them.”
What’s perhaps more interesting is the actor’s take on gun control. The Punisher is famously and controversially a gun-embracing character, especially when compared to other superheroes who never use guns. But Bernthal advocated for at least some restrictions beyond what we have now, especially given events like last November’s Texas church shooting where man with a history of mental health issues killed 26 people.
“Sometimes when people write about me, it sounds like I’m glorifying the violence…” the actor said. “I’m a gun owner. I have a gun in my house to keep my family safe. I’m trained in that gun’s use. I know how to keep it away from my kids, and I know how to use it if I need to. Should there be a way that a guy with mental issues like the asshole in Texas can’t get guns? Absolutely. We have to have a dialogue, and that’s not happening.”
The Punisher‘s first season debuted in November on Netflix; a second season has been ordered.