Ben Barnes Talks Billy Russo’s Role in The Punisher Season 2

Billy Russo won’t be the main antagonist during The Punisher’s upcoming season. Nevertheless, viewers are eagerly awaiting the return of Ben Barnes’ unique take on the character. The last time we saw him, he was laying in a hospital bed nursing a freshly scarred visage after a brutal skirmish with Frank Castle. Getting his face dragged across a shattered mirror surface would be reason enough to seek vengeance against his former friend. However, in an interview with io9, Barnes claims that just like a Jigsaw puzzle, Russo’s journey is far more complicated.

Barnes made it sound as though Billy’s arc for this season is more of a character study with psychodramatic roots. Since Billy is also suffering from brain damage, this allows the show’s writers to continue exploring PTSD-related themes. “It’s not just about the physical,” Barnes explained. “He’s had his head very much traumatized in the same way that many many veterans have been and he’s trying to deal with that…He’s trying to piece together what happened and who he is, and at one point the metaphor is used that his brain is the jigsaw they’re trying to put back together.”

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That’s not to say that his mangled appearance will be of little consequence. Throughout The Punisher’s first season, the show revealed details about Billy’s upbringing that somewhat clarified his sociopathic behavior. We learned that he grew up in foster care after his drug-addict mother abandoned him. During this time, he was the victim of attempted sexual abuse. Billy valued his dashing good looks and successful military contracting business as proof that he overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. With both of them gone, he’s out for more blood.

“We’re talking about a deeply narcissistic character—in season one—whose mask of appeal in terms of doing his hair and the nice suits and all that kind of stuff has been stripped away from him,” Barnes continued. “It’s about what he sees when he looks in the mirror rather than necessarily what other people see, because we didn’t want [Billy’s story] to be a horror show. It’s something more internal. We don’t refer to the character as Jigsaw in the series, but he very much has a jigsaw puzzle in his brain. It’s not about his face, it’s about the psychological, which is really something we wanted to focus on this season.”

The Punisher’s sophomore season premieres on Netflix sometime this month. You can share your thoughts on the series’ plans for Billy Russo in the comment section below!