News

The Punisher’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Showrunner Steve Lightfoot on Explicit Violence and Sidekicks

Actor who plays comic book fan-favorite character Micro talks likability, while executive producer Lightfoot discusses making killers relatable.

by and | November 17, 2017 | Comments

The latest Marvel superhero to get his own Netflix series is The Punisher, the hyper-violent vigilante introduced in Daredevil and played by The Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal. The titular character is a vet named Frank Castle, who seeks revenge after the murder of his wife and children. Among the many people he encounters along the way is David Lieberman, a.k.a. Micro (Girls‘ Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a CIA analyst on the run who proves useful in helping track down the bad guys who killed Castle’s family.

Moss-Bachrach and showrunner Steve Lightfoot spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about why Micro is much more than a sidekick, how closely the show hews to the Punisher comics, and how the violence in The Punisher compares to that in Lightfoot’s last series, Hannibal.

 

Ebon Moss-Bachrach | Steve Lightfoot


Moss-Bachrach on Making the Most of Micro

Marvel's The Punisher Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

Jean Bentley for Rotten Tomatoes: Your character on Girls, Desi, was a little bit controversial. Well, maybe not controversial, but he wasn’t the most liked character on that series.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach: On a show about unlikeable people, he was the least liked, sure.

On Punisher, David is a little more understandable and likable of a character.

Moss-Bachrach: I try to understand every character I’m playing. Desi was, in many ways, a big baby with the motorcycles and guitars and stuff. David Lieberman’s a family man who’s trying to do the right thing as an NSA analyst and has lost his family. Implicitly, it seems like one is a lot more sympathetic than the other.

From your perspective, who is David?

Moss-Bachrach: To me, he’s a guy that is in an office looking at videos from [abroad], from soldiers on the ground, and seeing thousands upon thousands upon thousands of these things every single day. Something like that really doesn’t sit well with him. His conscience won’t let him just sit on it and pass it along. He feels compelled to do something at great risk. Probably a greater risk to him and his family than he thought. He seems like a man of very strong wills, and very intelligent, with an amazing ability to focus on something. What carries us through this season is him focusing on getting back to his family, and proving his innocence.

We know what Frank’s motivations are — he’s trying to get revenge for the death of his family. But in the first few episodes we see how your character’s fatherhood influences his actions. How does that play into his arc for the season?

Moss-Bachrach: It’s sort of explicit. I think he says he can’t look at his kids if he’s just toeing the line and not doing anything about this extra-legal activity going on. I think he’s a patriot and wants to raise kids in a country that he feels like is doing the right thing.

The show also brings up the discussion of what it means to be a patriot in this day and age.

Moss-Bachrach: I think one of the themes of this show is what is responsibility to an institution? What does real loyalty mean? What does real patriotism mean? When do you have to take accountability and not follow orders? I’m not saying these things as [judgments] — these are questions that are posed. I don’t think this is a political show. This is a comical show to me. This is escapism.


Marvel's The Punisher - Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

(Photo by Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

I read that you worked on the character to give him a little more dimension than just being the tech guy. I don’t know if you saw the new Spider-Man movie, but there was a joke about how his friend wanted to be the computer guy at the desk.

Moss-Bachrach: I didn’t see that.

Your character here is the perfect example. He’s definitely way more than just the guy with the headset at the desk. He’s a very intricate part of this story.

Moss-Bachrach: Yes. They promised me. When I signed up for this they said, “You won’t have to do that.” I said, “OK, good, ’cause I don’t want to do that.” You see that so much of the time. I’m sick of seeing the guy at the desk sucking on the milkshake, making his wisecrack, and sort of being a coward. That’s a boring and false kind of cliché to me.

Frank and David are both very much motivated by their families, but your character seems more likable and approachable. Do you think that was the way the character was written, or is that something you brought to the role?

Moss-Bachrach: You have to contend with my innate charm and likability, he jokes, he says through the smile of self-loathing and insecurity. No, yeah, I think that’s how he’s written. Once you see somebody’s family, and you see them longing for their family, that’s quick brushstrokes to make the character sympathetic. Not to be cynical. His goal is to get back to his family. That’s concrete and pretty understandable. Frank’s goal is revenge, which is a little more abstract and slippery.


Marvel's The Punisher - Jon Bernthal (Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

(Photo by Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

The fourth episode has a big car chase. What was filming those stunt scenes like?

Moss-Bachrach: That was super fun. I got to drive around the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the middle of the night in a big car. Who doesn’t want to do that? The hardest stuff for me physically was in episode three when we did all the stuff where I’m tied to the chair. Getting pushed over and punched, then cold water thrown on me. I’m so the wrong person to talk to about the stunts, because the week would start with me and Jon, two days in the basement, doing intense scene work. Then I would go home and hang out with my family, then for the rest of the week getting [he was] punched as hard as you possibly get punched, and getting thrown off of stuff and getting blown up. I would come back in on Monday rested, and he would just be covered in bruises. I really wasn’t doing all that much of that stuff. Hopefully if we do some more [episodes], I’ll get to do some more. I like that. It’s a completely different, head space. It’s a completely different skill set, which I’d like to develop.

What was it like filming scenes where you’re supposed to be trapped in a chair, naked?

Moss-Bachrach: It’s hard. The first day I showed up, and went to my dressing room, I was like, this is a tiny little flesh-colored tiny little thong with a baggy on the front that I used to wear for sex scenes during Girls. So it’s like, “Hey old buddy. Here we are again.” In a very different context this time. It was hard. The water was really cold. It was one of those things where, I don’t feel for me so much, I feel for the camera department, all the crew that’s there, seeing way more of me than they probably ever want to see. I just make a point at the end of the day, going around, shaking everybody[‘s hand], saying “OK, are we good? Are we sill friends? Hey Greg, we still friends?” Everyone was very professional and kind.


Marvel's The Punisher - Jon Bernthal (Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

(Photo by Nicole Rivelli /Netflix)

Also, an office chair is not the most comfortable place to be trapped nude.

Moss-Bachrach: Oh, it was horrible. Legs, back, kind of back behind. Zip ties. I tried to be really serious about it, so I wanted the zip ties tied tight. “This really sucks.” I hope it came out well!

Your character has a long, storied history in the comics. Did you do any research ahead of time? Is there anything that you guys didn’t get to do that you’d like to do in a season 2? Any fun story lines or winks to your character’s comic history?

Moss-Bachrach: Yeah, I would love to go back more to the comic books. We learn a lot about David in the course of the season. I love the mystery surrounding him in the comic book. It might just be my haphazard reading of The Punisher. Micro always seemed like such a mystery to me, and a real lone wolf kind of guy. I would like to explore some more of that.

This doesn’t have to do with The Punisher, but before we got on the phone I browsed your credits and noticed that you were on three different Law & Orders, which is amazing. That’s the New York actor trifecta.

Moss-Bachrach: Yeah. That’s the New York acting school right there. The MSA of the streets. I was on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the first episode. I didn’t make it past the teaser. I think I play a college kid who’s going home to his girlfriend’s apartment with her to get busy, unbeknownst to them there’s a burglar lying in the wait, slash killer. Played by the great actor Jake Weber. Then I was on Law & Order: SVU, where I played a owner of a political bookstore [involved] in an explosion in front of a state building. Turned out to be my girlfriend. We shot a lot of that stuff a block from where I was living at the time, in Brooklyn. I was humiliated and felt like I had to move, because I could never go back to my coffee shop again. I was also on the short-lived Law & Order: Trial By Jury with another great, Bebe Neuwirth. I don’t think I’ve ever done the mothership. The original.

The one that got away.

Moss-Bachrach: I’m good with it. I have a lot of regrets, that’s not one.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach | Steve Lightfoot


Marvel’s The Punisher is available to stream on Netflix.

Pages: 1 2 Next

Tag Cloud

slasher Infographic docudrama Spectrum Originals Ovation Amazon Studios Freeform rom-coms Netflix dark Premiere Dates legend aapi IMDb TV 99% concert sports BET Awards MTV Trivia OneApp japan Shondaland Image Comics hist Disney Showtime parents indiana jones free movies football Sundance Now critic resources Holiday HBO Britbox Captain marvel Sony Pictures Turner Grammys streaming movies Opinion screenings 71st Emmy Awards scene in color supernatural scary movies boxing Binge Guide ITV romantic comedy comic books rotten movies we love Spring TV AMC DC streaming service Baby Yoda 72 Emmy Awards war latino boxoffice crime thriller nfl hispanic Nickelodeon casting TNT dreamworks 2021 Adult Swim breaking bad ABC Signature Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pop DC Universe travel witnail worst movies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Television Academy universal monsters YouTube Premium revenge book AMC Plus technology Year in Review robots festivals Reality National Geographic asian-american Hallmark Christmas movies art house Countdown cars teaser facebook docuseries Classic Film space E! zombies GoT emmy awards what to watch 2017 YouTube El Rey joker indie sitcom mission: impossible Logo Country Tubi Set visit saw comics women fast and furious christmas movies Bravo Mudbound TV Land biopic FXX ABC Family television Masterpiece Alien Film Warner Bros. Teen Pop TV superhero kids 1990s Comics on TV name the review Black Mirror strong female leads TIFF Podcast Red Carpet Pixar CBS TV renewals cancelled TV series VICE adenture SXSW Pride Month Nominations Super Bowl blaxploitation Watching Series james bond GIFs psycho PBS Music Acorn TV action-comedy Hallmark 93rd Oscars TV One GLAAD Discovery Channel HBO Max Shudder Star Wars Lionsgate heist movie San Diego Comic-Con Anna Paquin Awards crossover spanish CW Seed Trailer series BBC America new zealand reviews 90s hidden camera Character Guide Spike The Purge lord of the rings Box Office nbcuniversal Reality Competition godzilla OWN SDCC period drama mob cancelled television spider-man movie Hear Us Out Avengers 21st Century Fox a nightmare on elm street scary Christmas Cosplay Video Games crime vs. stoner spy thriller doctor who Arrowverse richard e. Grant marvel cinematic universe Awards Tour Interview razzies mutant satire new star wars movies unscripted crime drama wonder woman Pet Sematary olympics know your critic X-Men Black History Month Disney Plus Drama Winter TV The Witch children's TV Esquire comedies Brie Larson new york First Look live event Mindy Kaling Fox Searchlight prank ghosts YA quibi Rock Comic Book Sneak Peek comic book movie Dark Horse Comics justice league classics IFC YouTube Red Martial Arts worst ABC Lifetime Christmas movies Fargo TCM Marathons cooking historical drama BET Toys Starz toy story Syfy cults Ghostbusters Photos franchise chucky Superheroes 2016 game show TCA Awards popular Apple TV Plus Marvel Studios President Fantasy halloween tv DGA A24 animated Crackle FX on Hulu reboot dexter kaiju The Walt Disney Company Comedy Academy Awards Sundance TV Exclusive Video Endgame jurassic park DirecTV Food Network Television Critics Association Women's History Month Musical Mary Tyler Moore Vudu Comedy Central TCA 2017 Hulu CNN singing competition laika Cartoon Network gangster The Walking Dead Paramount Network Tokyo Olympics RT History psychological thriller Creative Arts Emmys CBS All Access festival harry potter Apple rt labs black comedy cops Action science fiction archives TCA aliens dramedy directors Extras TV movies Pacific Islander New York Comic Con australia DC Comics The Arrangement Epix game of thrones USA Network remakes composers feel good Emmys international mcc Winners 73rd Emmy Awards cancelled TV Family king arthur independent slashers romance spinoff video on demand LGBT Mystery Quiz debate Writers Guild of America social media BBC based on movie dceu italian leaderboard NYCC batman Animation RT21 TLC MSNBC telelvision adaptation MCU venice canceled TV shows golden globes anthology comic book movies Polls and Games Horror Tarantino foreign films Best and Worst werewolf Schedule See It Skip It 2018 Instagram Live Paramount cats child's play Star Trek french Marvel Television Superheroe Disney Channel book adaptation cartoon Rom-Com ViacomCBS Sundance king kong 24 frames theme song documentaries IFC Films scorecard Musicals south america Turner Classic Movies PlayStation politics dc trailers finale NBC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina medical drama nature Lucasfilm Legendary Rocketman SundanceTV marvel comics Cannes 4/20 spanish language cinemax rt archives Summer ESPN Calendar Thanksgiving police drama Apple TV+ dogs CMT live action diversity deadpool cancelled TV shows canceled sag awards Kids & Family 20th Century Fox Walt Disney Pictures Mary poppins royal family Rocky elevated horror high school Sci-Fi PaleyFest natural history Amazon Prime genre versus rt labs critics edition adventure Election VH1 Neflix Chernobyl Lifetime vampires target TCA Winter 2020 toronto Netflix Christmas movies Film Festival fresh streaming basketball disaster FOX Broadway Valentine's Day Certified Fresh best Pirates ratings TruTV E3 video posters Columbia Pictures comiccon WarnerMedia Comic-Con@Home 2021 Peacock The Academy trophy blockbusters stop motion comic BBC One twilight 45 Stephen King political drama Marvel spain NBA hispanic heritage month Funimation all-time Mary Poppins Returns Universal First Reviews FX dragons green book pirates of the caribbean Holidays LGBTQ renewed TV shows halloween miniseries Amazon Prime Video screen actors guild kong Nat Geo Travel Channel Heroines transformers award winner tv talk zero dark thirty Disney streaming service HBO Go Song of Ice and Fire mockumentary Oscars 2019 A&E Trophy Talk Universal Pictures 007 superman criterion Paramount Plus VOD sopranos WGN Amazon anime BAFTA zombie documentary jamie lee curtis obituary Fall TV sequels biography hollywood TBS stand-up comedy true crime rotten young adult talk show Emmy Nominations die hard History 2020 2015 golden globe awards Western movies American Society of Cinematographers Disney+ Disney Plus ID monster movies Elton John discovery japanese spider-verse suspense APB black binge critics The CW Tomatazos news Crunchyroll USA Ellie Kemper sequel Wes Anderson blockbuster Fox News Tumblr thriller serial killer Biopics