Writer/Director Jonathan Hensleigh on The Punisher

The latest issue of Wizard magazine includes an interview with The Punisher writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh which we’ve reproduced for you below…

When you were working on the script for “The Punisher,” were there any particular Punisher stories that you were influenced by?

There were two, and one in particular. The first was Punisher: Year One. It was a four-issue set that came out in 1994-1995. It has this really cool cover art and I highly recommend it. I took just pieces of the plot. The plotline was way, way too involved and it would have been “Gone With the Wind” – a four-hour action movie. So there was that, and I was very heavily influenced by Garth Ennis’, Welcome Bakc Frank. That’s where I took the tenement apartment, the characters of Spacker Dave, Joan the Mouse, Mr. Bumpo and the Russian. The Russian is appearing in probably the most elaborate and costly of our set pieces.

Since you have incorporated those characters, will you be using some of the comedic elements from that storyline in this film?

Yes. Dead on-same tone. That’s what I liked so much about it-it was violent, tense and real, but it had a kind of jaunty, light-on-its-feet, droll tone.

Why did you decide to go with Thomas Jane?

He’s always been one of my favorite young actors. He has an everyman look; he’s not pretty. He’s kind of a burly guy. He’s gotten very lean for the role, but he looks tough. And I had seen him play a real man’s man in “61*”. And I talked to that film’s director, Billy Crystal, about Thomas. Billy just went on and on about him. I had met Thomas earlier socially and had liked him very much. With all of those components, I just really felt like he was the right guy and the studio and Marvel supported it.

Will there be any costume modifications at all?

All Punisher fans know that the skull changes. We have in fact taken that license and done what we think is a real bitchin’ version of the skull for the movie. Different? Yeah, but it’s still right in the family. There are a couple of years where I didn’t want to go; Microchip, the battle van, all that stuff where it got really high-tech; we’re not going there at all. I deemed that too complicated, too lacking of the spirit of the sort of urban vigilante. The Punisher doesn’t just go around blowing people away; he uses guile and cunning just as much as he does weaponry and physical combat.

How do you visualize the first two-minute trailer?

Intense, intense action, physical combat, weaponry and moments of very, very high drama, mostly involving the underlying event which creates the character which is the slaughter of Castle’s family, and a lot of intense shots of him in an urban environment.

How do you see John Travolta and Thomas Jane playing off of each other? In the script, do the characters see parallels in each other?

I think the audience will see parallels, but they don’t have a lot of scenes together. It’s really the final confrontation. Castle moves through the plot in the second act and the third act engineering things to cause the downfall of Howard Saint. They don’t stand face to face, man to man, until the end.

Source: Wizard