Taking the Lead with Thomas Jane
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After seeing The Punisher, a movie about exacting justice and dealing with inner demons, one may wonder what lead actor Thomas (Tom) Jane is like. His character, Frank Castle, is a stoic and guarded man who believes that the system he fought for has failed him and his lost family. Castle’s movements are fluid and his training has made him a lean, mean fighting machine. He is not a superhero, but Castle is heroic in his drive to deliver justice for his slain family.

How exactly would Jane compare during a Q&A conference about his movie? Quite ironically, Jane seemed a bit tired from the red-eye flight and maybe a bit shy, but he was open to questions and his demeanor quickly put people at ease. Jane is very proud of this film, and that is why he was willing to leave his wife and 13-month-old baby girl in L.A. to meet with press and fans to promote The Punisher.

“To tell you the truth, I just wouldn’t do it (the press junket) because it’s a lot of work,” Jane said. “Time away from my baby - she’s 13-months-old - and stuff like that. So it’s really got to mean something for me to come out, and it does. This is the kind of movie I’ve been waiting to do for a long time.”

It certainly does not hurt that Jane has been an avid comic reader since childhood, and The Punisher was a comic that he read when he was younger.

“Yeah, I’m a comic book fan,” Jane said, “and I’m also just a fan of old school action movies. I’m a fan because they were character-driven, and they relied on heart, and the action came out of the characters.”

“You really cared about them,” Jane said, “and the stakes were a lot higher that way. There weren’t too many sub-machine guns, and (stuff) like that, where it just became body count movies, and people ate it for a reason.”

“I like that,” Jane said. “I like those kinds of movies that are hard-nosed and hard-boiled. I feel like this is a punk rock action movie. It is just like bare bones and with a lot of heart.”

Jane is definitely proud of the fact that there are not any CGI (computer graphic) effects in this film because he is not a major fan of them.

“CG is great and stuff, and it’s part of the MTV generation and all that,” Jane said, “but it is still cartoons in movies. Director Jonathan Hensley calls it 'cartoons for buffoons,' and it’s true. You’re watching a movie and a cartoon comes in.”

“It’s weird, but it's fun and stuff,” Jane said, “but it takes away from the experience for me. Also they become reliant because they (the studio) spent so much money on it - these CG generated effects - that they lose the focus of what the story is about.”

“Even the producers and the studios become less concerned with character development and the actual plot of the story,” Jane said, “and (they become) more concerned about their special effects and their stunts and the trailer that they are going to make. I think that is going to hurt us.”

“I think that the flash of an MTV style film is something that is readily accepted,” Jane said, “and it is something that without that is something that kind of throws us for a loop for a minute because I guess we’re just not used to it anymore, so it’s kind of a throwback movie in that way, and I’m just damn proud of it.”

“It takes no prisoners. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else other than what it is and it’s a hell of a lot of fun,” Jane said. “It’s an entertaining movie. That’s just awesome to me.”

Jane has been working in film for close to 10 years now, and for the most part has done supporting roles and worked in ensemble films like *61, The Sweetest Thing, Boogie Nights and Dreamcatcher. It seems that doing a lead role was a matter of natural progression for him, and he says that The Punisher was a comfortable fit for his first leading role.

“It’s a character-driven movie,” Jane said, “and I kind of come out of ensemble movies and stuff like that. It’s where I learned the tools of my trade. When I was ready to kind of bust out with a lead in a movie, it’s The Punisher, and I just couldn’t ask for more.”

“It’s done in the style that I love,” Jane said. “I’m a big fan of Don Segal, where the directing takes a back seat to the acting and the action and what’s going on. It doesn’t call attention to itself, and it’s seamless, and so I am just so proud of it.”

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