By Nick Romano
March 11, 2020 at 04:01 PM EDT
Jon Bernthal
Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images

Jon Bernthal, the machismo actor of Netflix's The Punisher and Oscar-winning Ford v Ferrari, is our new American Gigolo. Who knows? Maybe there will be a different kind of punishing involved.

Showtime gave an official pilot order for a planned American Gigolo drama series, a present-day re-imagining of the 1980 film that starred Richard Gere. Bernthal takes over Gere's role as Julian Kaye, whom we'll meet as a man struggling to make it in the modern-day sex industry of Los Angeles. Eighteen years earlier, he was arrested for murder. Now, he's trying to find out who set him up to take the fall, while reconnecting with his true love, Michelle.

David Hollander, who's coming off of showrunning Ray Donovan, writes and directs American Gigolo. The former saw Liev Schreiber adopt the hyper-masculine persona of the titular fixer, and now Hollander found himself another macho man to work with. Bernthal, who will also produce the new drama, made a name for himself through complex tough-guy roles on The Walking Dead, Widows, Sweet Virginia, and Baby Driver.

American Gigolo comes with all the sizzle you’d expect, but it also offers a deep dive into the complicated waters of relationships and sexuality in 2020," Showtime Networks' President of Entertainment Gary Levine said in a statement.

This marks Bernthal's first headlining television role since The Punisher, which, along with Netflix's other live-action Marvel series, was canceled as Disney moved to development its own line of original streaming programs.

“Frank Castle is 100 percent in my bones and in my heart,” he told EW while promoting Ford v Ferrari. “Over the years, the character has resonated with the law enforcement community and the military community and the comic book audience, and being a part of that I revere and I’m enormously grateful for. Frank Castle, the place where he’s at and the journey where he’s at, is something that I bought into wholeheartedly. He will always have a place in my heart and I will always be very protective of him and that project.”

Jerry Bruckheimer, the veteran Hollywood producer with ties to the Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop, and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, will executive produce American Gigolo with Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed. The studio is Paramount Television Studios.

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