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He carried a sword as Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome. Now Ray Stevenson is tooling up as Frank Castle in Marvel’s third attempt at a Punisher film. He talks about the man behind the gun in AMCtv.com’s interview.
Q: How did Punisher: War Zone come about for you?
A: I was in Marvel’s offices to meet with Louis Leterrier for the Hulk movie — not for Banner but for his nemesis… Obviously they went with Tim Roth, but they were also in talks with Lionsgate for The Punisher and they told the director she should look at me. It’s the Garth Ennis writing that just got me hooked. From that moment, I realized if we were able to show a character where there’s no redemption, no light at the end of his tunnel, then this thing’s got a chance. I just really didn’t want people coming out of the cinema thinking about tooling up.
Q: Was it difficult for you to follow in the steps of Thomas Jane and Dolph Lundgren?
A: No, I didn’t even watch them until we were finished filming, because ours was a fresh, grassroots restart. I think it’s a minefield if you go in and try and right the wrongs of past films. You’re going to make your own mistakes. You try and minimize them and just and tell the best story you have. Because what didn’t work for you may have worked for somebody else, so you can really run through a lot of hoops and fall flat on your face.
Q: Do you worry the level of gore will turn people away?
A: Not really. The violence is there in the books and we need to see it in the film. But at least we were able to see the flip side of that and show there’s a price to pay for it as well. It’s wanton in the fact that it’s a comic book and it has that violence in it, but it’s not trying to justify it. You just have to open the newspapers in most Western news to see real violence.
Q: What was your favorite gun?
A: I don’t have a favorite — it’s the one that did the job. It’s not about who’s got the biggest gun, it’s about what’s the right weapon for the right situation. So the one that’s loaded and pointed at the enemy — that’s my favorite gun.
Q: Would you ever want to play another superhero?
A: Absolutely! I’ve got a young boy: I want as many toy figures as possible. The only reason I’m doing this is for action figures so my boy can rip them apart.
Q: Tell me about your next film, Cirque du Freak.
A: I had a lot of fun on that. In Rome you had the commitment to the whole Roman set, two thousand years ago and all that. Now there’s this real traveling freak show, a dark, obscure, Tim Burton-esque skewed world.
Q: Your character, Murlough, is a Vampaneze. What’s the difference between that and a Vampire?
A: Well, the vampires are your modern, New Age thinkers who believe that you don’t actually have to kill human beings to take a sip of blood. I came up with a whole philosophy for the Vampaneze: Human beings need to be killed. They are such a fearful and mistrusting creation that if we remove the bogeyman, they’ll look inwards, fear nobody but themselves and go the path of self-annihilation. We are the common enemy that unifies these people in their petty fears to actually look after each other.
Q: It’s a family film. Was it refreshing to be in something a bit tamer?
RS: Oh my word it’s not tame. It’s blood-curdling, full of action, full of demons… I even dance! That’s gotta be scary.Read More