: Recently I got the chance to meet with Tom Jane during his Seattle promotional stop for his new film “The Punisher” the talented actor was kind enough to talk about his transformation into the comic legend, the making of the film, and his views on action films.
GVK: How difficult was it to play a character with such an angry and violent edge?
TJ: It was a lot of fun. I had been looking to do something like this for a while now. I liked the mix of comic book irreverence with the dark and gritty urban reality to it and I wanted a sense of heart and to be on the edge. People have been responding to the emotional edge to the film as while it is violent, they can connect to it on a human level. Frank is not taking out people just to kill them, there is a reason behind what he does as he does not leave a wake of misery and death behind him towards the innocent as he has his own sense of morality.
GVK: You had mentioned concerns about making sure the story was done right and that a mix of the old and new comics were used as the basis for the film. How much of this was due to the failed effort of the Dolph Lundgren Punisher film and how much were you allowed to contribute to the creation of the character?
TJ: I had a lot of input and we drew a lot of inspiration from the Welcome Back Frank series as well as from the Year one and Warzone comics as that is where the Mickey character came from. When I sat down with the writer/Director Johnathan Hensleigh, we started to adapt the story and we found his irreverent sense of humor a great balance to the pathos and tragedy of the subject matter. We took the script apart and I had a lot of input as I tried to take out as much of the dialogue as I could. The actors of the 70’s used a look or gesture to convey their thoughts and I tried to do that as much as I could with this character, I am a big Buster Keaton Fan.
GVK: It also showed his strength as he was a deeds not words type of man who was intelligent and it showed, but he let his actions do his talking and like a chess player, he plotted all of his moves out in advance.
TJ: Exactly, he is a very interesting guy. He is a hard man who does not need to talk as his is a very physical character with a driven mentality and focus.
GVK: How was the weapons training for the part?
TJ: It was a rigorous pain. I am not into that sort of thing and since the demands of the part were what they were, I went through it to become the character. I am not into bodybuilding and such but I gave it my all as I wanted to come as close to an approximation of the character as I could within the six-month preparation time.
GVK: What is the word on future Punisher films?
TJ: We are going to do at least one more and I knew this going in and wanted to make sure I enjoyed this idea and would not think I was saddled with a sequel. I wanted to be challenged and explore the line between right and wrong, as this is not often done in films today, as he is an anti-hero. I want to make a future film as relevant and real as the first one and further films after that would be based on how I fealt about the second one.
GVK: You did 90% of the stunt work in the film and with the concern over the scene where you go through the wall, how many times did you have second thoughts when shooting stunts?
TJ: A few, they beat the crap out of me. The fight with the Russian was very intense and I do not know how I managed to get through it. The scene on the dock was bad as well as I was beaten and blown up and it was a painful sequence.
GVK: It did add an interesting dynamic to the character as he was not an unstoppable walking tank, and he did take a lot of punishment as he gets and good as he gives in a few scenes and it helps to enforce that he is just a man.
TJ: Right, he does not have super powers, he does not rise above others, and he is a regular guy who puts himself into that situation, as he has nothing to lose.
GVK: How was Travolta to work with?
TJ: He was great, he was very kind and supportive and even called me after to let me know how much he enjoyed the film, it was a great honor.
GVK: How much was cut from the film from what was shot to the theatrical version?
TJ: We cut a sub-plot where one of my former agents in the F.B.I. sells Frank’s identity out but other than that the film is fairly intact aside from a few small bits.
GVK: It seemed that the film was very low on CGI effects as the film went with a very realistic look. What is your take on CGI, as it seems to have run amuck in many films?
TJ: CGI has made many films almost cartoons, as the technology still has not arrived. In the days of Harryhousen, they did not look realistic but they were interesting to look at. Now the idea is that CGI is a fix all and will resolve a lot of issue and it takes me out of the film and I am more interested in a reality based film. It is sad as many of the FX and stunt masters have not been getting the work that they used to as computer techs are taking this sort of work over and a fantastic wealth of talent is being overlooked and should be used as they are very relevant and that is where the real talent is.
GVK: Comic fans have been known to be fanatical in their devotion. As you are promoting this tour, what has been your feedback from the comic fans?
TJ: It has been very positive which was a surprise, as I did not expect to be able to please those guys. Now and then I get a letter from an ex-Navy Seal who says I have my finger on a weapon wrong, but can think of is how sad it must be to not be able to enjoy a movie as you are paying attention to minute details like that.
GVK: Thank you so much.