Today, Esquire has a sprawling new profile centered on The Punisher star Jon Bernthal, and the greatness contained within that piece has completely derailed the productivity of the Birth.Movies.Death. staff.
The piece is wall-to-wall gold, presenting us with a Jon Bernthal who is less one of our finest working character actors and more a living legend we should all maybe be living in fear of. Here are our nine favorite moments from the profile, presented in no particular order:
Jon Bernthal improv'd the ketchup scene in The Wolf Of Wall Street:
"In 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and the rest of the boys are eating at a diner and talking about their swindles. Imperceptibly, Bernthal keeps asking for ketchup. After the fourth request, he looks at the empty bottle, his face becoming a mask of rage. He hurls it, and the festivities come to an immediate end. Bernthal planned it all without telling the director, Martin Scorsese. He is more than a little proud of his ballsiness.
“Marty runs out and he goes, ‘Okay, let’s do it again. Two cameras on the ketchup.’ ”
Jon Bernthal knows how to defuse tense encounters with pit bulls:
"The previous week, he was with Bam Bam at a dog park in the Playa Vista neighborhood in L. A. when he saw another pit bull attacking a pug. The hipster dog owners in attendance recoiled and did nothing. Bernthal started shouting.
“Put your hand up its ass! Put your hand up its ass!”
This frightened the hipsters, perhaps because this particular pacification method has been discredited by enlightened dog experts. Bernthal sighed and strode across the park. In another time in his life, he would have gone straight for the pit’s fangs, attempting to uncouple the dog’s jaws by force, a move that might have cost him a digit.
Now, instead, he approached the pit bull from the rear and put his thumb up its ass."
Jon Bernthal was out here hustling before he was even 10 years old:
"He got sent home early from a camping trip at age eight for trafficking copies of Playboy."
Jon Bernthal's other childhood activities involved fighting other kids with nunchakus:
At Sidwell, he says, “we were suburban kids, but we all wanted to find the most dangerous things in a dangerous city.” The fact that they went to a posh school gave them a larger chip on their blazers. They fought kids from other schools with nunchakus and fists, and spent a lot of afternoons running from the cops.
Jon Bernthal attended college in Russia and almost got shot in the face while defending a woman who was being attacked in public:
"Russia was even more of a gangsterland than it is today. “There were dead bodies on the street all the time,” Bernthal recalled. On his third day in the country, he forgot his identity papers—a big no-no—and took the subway back to Gorky Park to pick them up. He got lost, and the next thing he knew, he was watching two Russian men slam a beautiful woman against the side of a building. Bernthal ran to the men, grabbed one, and told him to stop.
The Russian man pulled out a pistol and held it to Bernthal’s forehead. “You go now.”
Jon Bernthal once threatened to whoop Oliver Stone's ass on the set of World Trade Center:
"Stone rode Bernthal hard, and one day during filming he screamed that the actor’s takes were either too over-the-top or too tepid. Eventually, Stone walked over from the video village and shouted at Bernthal and a few other actors. “You are all so fucking vain,” Stone said. He turned to Bernthal and jabbed a finger in his face. “And you are the worst.”
Bernthal slapped the director’s hand away.
“Let me tell you something, dude. You might be Oliver Stone, but I will beat your fucking ass right here on this set. In front of everybody here, I will beat your ass. You got that?”
Stone retreated. Nicolas Cage, one of the stars of the film, wandered over and said, “Wow, man, there was adversity and you threw more adversity at it.”
Jon Bernthal's children take zero shit from ghouls...
"A little later, the Bernthal clan hit an elaborate haunted house set up by a Hollywood special- effects guy who lived in town. The boys were less than afraid. When a chain-saw-wielding ghoul jumped out at Bernthal’s middle child, the kid punched his assailant in the testicles."
...but he's also teaching them to be good people.
We walked in the dark, and Bernthal told me what he hoped for his kids, particularly his sons. “I want them to see kindness as masculine, not a sign of weakness.”
Jon Bernthal cordially invites members of the alt-right to fuck themselves:
"I noted that the Punisher’s symbol, a skull with long fangs, has been spotted on military helmets in Iraq and biker jackets, and was seen on the shoulders of alt-right protesters at the white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I feel honored to play a guy who people putting their life on the line identify with,” Bernthal said.
And the alt-righters?
Two thoughts we'd like to wrap up on: one, if you like the above, you should absolutely head on over to Esquire and read the rest of the profile; it's thoroughly excellent and well worth your time. And two, this profile also contains an anecdote wherein Jon Bernthal fools a roomful of his fellow acting students by telling an elaborate (and wholly fictional) story about a catcher's mitt given to him by his dying mother.
Are all the above stories true? We don't know and we kinda don't want to know. For now, we are content to print the legend.