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Thomas JaneThomas Jane | Anything But Plain
an emily blunt interview

 

 

 

Actor Thomas Jane is about to be a super-star. His brooding performance in The Punisher shows a buff-antihero manfest side of the lad…though underneath the brawn and roasted chipotle flavored looks beats the heart of a real actor. It's a hit combo.

You've seen a less-pumped version of the relatively Joe Average-in-a-GQ way Thomas in films like 61*, Dreamcatcher, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia - so he's not new to the screen…just approved…physically. He said it took him over six months of training to get the raised eyebrow inducing physique he sports in The Punisher - and his strict diet, that excluded hamburgers, worked.

Jane's personal life too is a soaring. He's engaged to the multi-talented beauty Patricia Arquette of the Arquette tribe of unique siblings. They recently had a kid and everything.

So, has yummy as we buff-loving man-addicts find this fine specimen of manlyberry treats, we can look, admire, but alas no jumping upon the lad like a rabid Rhesus monkey....

Let's get to the chat:

EMILY: Um, what's that?

THOMAS: I'm gonna eat on the fly - I can eat again [laughs as he nibbles on a tripledecker sandwich that looks as if it holds a week's worth of fat and calories just beneath its crusty toasted top]

EMILY: Do you want to get the naked chest thing out of the way first?

THOMAS: Yeah. Let's get it out of the way! [laughter]

EMILY: What was the deal with all the naked chest scenes? Was that the producer's idea - in the script - what? And, thank you!

THOMAS: [laughter] It's a physical part. I knew going in I could get into the character by the physicality of the character. I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work. It didn't want my hard work to go unrecognized! [laughter]

EMILY: How'd you get those delicious washboard abs?

THOMAS: [laughter] You liked those huh? I basically ripped out a picture of Frank Castle from the comic book- took it to my trainer and said, "I wanna look like that!" Initially he laughed. When I said I have six months he laughed harder. We did something that's a bit controversial in the weight lifting, bodybuilding arena. I went to the gym twice a day. I worked on one body part twice a day. Something that normally you'd allow 24 hours for that part to recover before breaking it down again. For me I had very good results. It speed up the time and allowed me to get the kind of body the role required. I did abdomens everyday though. They have it down to a science now…you just follow the bouncing ball. There's some genetics involved!

EMILY: And the diet? You couldn't eat that [pointing to his lunch]

THOMAS: No [laughter] it was flooding the body with proteins. Giving it the building blocks it needed. I could eat nothing on this plate. [he takes a defiant bigger bite] Which is why I like this so much.

EMILY: So why'd you make such a commitment to this role?

THOMAS: It's what I do and it beats being in jail [laughter].

EMILY: You did the old actor motto, "Jump in with both feet?" Well, both biceps?

THOMAS: Absolutely. Yeah. I consider myself a journeyman actor. I got into this business at the bottom doing theater in Hollywood- a 30-seat theater. Then bits parts in small films, then bit parts in bigger films…then bigger part in smaller films. I really kind of came up from the bottom and along the way just thought of myself as a student just learning my craft.
Waiting for the opportunity and headline the movie. This is the first time. I wanted to bring everything I could to the role. I knew, because I was a comic book collector as a kid, I wanted to be true to it and do it where the readers reverence to these characters- I needed to give it my best shot. I wanted to make an impact.

EMILY: Okay- then why did Avi [producer] have to hunt you down for over a year to get you?

THOMAS: I just wasn't interested in playing a super hero. I think it's great for other folks- [he's refreshingly honest here folks]. I just didn't see myself doing it. I had to take it very seriously - what kind of film I could "headline." Having worked my way up to a point where people actually pursued me for a part? I take that very seriously and would want something I felt less than confident that I could give my abilities to too. We cultivated the more human story. It wants to be bigger then life. It wants to be entertaining. Your not making a social drama [laughter] It's not the Lawrence Olivier planned The Punisher.

EMILY: So why'd they pick you?

THOMAS: I don't know! The actual comic book crowd makes up a very small part of the audience. We had to appeal to a larger audience as well.

EMILY: Yes, but they can kill a movie if they start posting, "That aint Frank"
THOMAS: Absolutely! The word of mouth is very powerful- but if the movie's good people will go…why the hell they pick me! [laughter]

EMILY: You know what I mean…you had to work out; they had to romance you …why the hell didn't they just get a gym-baby?

Hunk VisionTHOMAS: [laughter] The Rock? Because…the I think Avi is very smart and he knows instinctually that to bring these comic book characters to life he needs real actors. Actors he can trust to bring life, humanity -realness to the parts I think that's why he was interested in me. The work I'd done- like 61* where I play Mickey Mantle - they felt I could carry a film- which was flattering - but they also knew I could, would, bring a sense of humanity to this guy. It's a big commitment to make to a franchise. If you don't like the character - you're still stuck with him for five or six years of your life and this is MY life! We may have two more of these…and, honestly, if it wasn't me it would have been someone like me. Hey, five years ago I would not have been considered to play the lead in an action film- any other movie for that matter! I didn't fit the criteria. But today, I find more stuff coming my way…

EMILY: Because there's women producers!

THOMAS: [laughter] I think I represent a more of a kind-of complex character. I'm more an anti-hero.

EMILY: You look like a real guy.

THOMAS: Yes! That's it. I guess I have one of those complicated faces. But hopefully we'll see more of that. I'm just happy it's kind of swinging my way.

EMILY: The film's pretty violent. At what point do you think it's becomes gratuitous?

THOMAS: It becomes gratuitous when violence is done for violence's sake In our film it's always a reactive violence. It's never more people don't die then should- bad guys. It's extreme - there's a heightened sense of violence, comedy. I think that's why we go to these things. If the violence was too "real' we'd be in trouble. You know? It would be hard to stomach. It's sense of vigilantism or violence is a kind of salve to these people who run around feeling vindictive all the time. There's a roll a violent film plays in society - it gives us an outlet. We know it's not right to take the law into our own hands. Here the elements are more cathartic. In the beginning Frank doesn't believe in violence...so there's a sense of humanity to Frank. It's important to see he's lost everything he believes in - everything's been stripped away. If anything where to ever happen to my faimly...if anyone were to hurt them in anyway...it would be very easy for me to imagine doing all those things I did to those people [in the film] AND more. Much more. That's the emotional impulse.

END

The movie is indeed violent. The director sets us all up to follow Frank Castle into his deep dark revenge story...but trust me you'd be ready to wield revenge in this scenario as well.

But, he really captured this man's defeat and resurrection. Sure The Punisher's not for everyone - my mom for example - would puke from the violence. But it is based on a comic book - and Jane's good in it.

Next he'll be in The Standard (June 11th- less buff but just as handsome). It's about a real guy that robbed banks and became an outlaw folk hero in South Africa.


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