I want to state for the record that Daniel Webber has a charming Australian accent, which made doing a phone interview with him all the more wonderful.
Okay so, Marvel Netflix’s ‘The Punisher’. First off, congratulations!
Thank you so much.
First off, how, why, did you land the role?
Still trying to figure it out. Just went through the process of audition. Sent in a tape for a script, which I didn’t know what it was for, it was originally titled something like ‘Crime’, and then you go down the line and meet the producers and eventually figure out its for the Punisher, and it all comes together!
Tell me you did a fanboy squee at that particular moment.
Well to be brutally honest, my guilty secret is, I didn’t know about The Punisher before then. However, I did do my research while I was in the audition process, as much as you can in the short space of time. I was watching a bunch of Jon Bernthal’s work in Daredevil, to get a sense of what the show was, and then later on began to read the comics and went through some of the great artwork in the storylines, like ‘Welcome Back Frank’ from Garth Ennis, and also working with Jon on the set, that’s actually where the fanboy came out. (laughs)
I bet, that’s terrific. It turns out, I’m actually already a large fan of yours, your portrayal of Lee Harvey Oswald that you did in ’11.22.63’, I enjoyed the hell out of that show and greatly enjoyed your performance. And I think that performance can actually relate to this new character!
In some ways, sure. They’re not the same, but they’re on a similar journey. Very different human beings, but it’s good to look at these characters from different angles. To look at that sort of character from a different angle, it’s nice because the show looks at soldiers, and going back to war, and it felt like it had a lot of heart and feeling behind it, like they were trying to communicate a really good message and story. And start a conversation about soldiers coming back from war.
That actually works as a lead-in to the next question – your character Lewis is kind of a heavy character, his journey speaks to the issues of troops in our imperfect military care and after care system, that soldiers that come back from war have to deal with, all different mannerisms of PTSD. What did you do to prepare for portraying such a potentially sensitive role?
I think you got to go into a role like this being as respectful as possible, of the story you’re telling and of the men and women who’ve served. I think the show-runners and everybody involved and overall, understood that very deeply. And actual Veterans are involved in this production, I got to meet and work with some of them and am good friends with a few of them now. I was talked through character and script ideas, and the military specifics of how Lewis might do or not do something, whether or not this phrasing was right, like that. I think you have to understand the story you’re telling, to get involved in that world to that extent, I think it’s a respectful conversation they’re having. Having the utmost respect for these men and women was at the forefront of everyones mind.
That’s terrific, and kind of parlays into the next question – some of the scenes where Lewis is having intense flashbacks to his time in combat in various wars, and what do you do to get yourself into the Lewis frame of mind for those particularly dark times?
I don’t know to be honest, it’s still a bit of a mystery to me.
Just something that you as a very fine actor do naturally, which is awesome.
It takes a lot of work of course, but it’s kind of like a painting, layers and layers upon a painting, you put one stroke on and you brush it over, and brush it over again, I think it’s something that builds up and you just sort of develop your own understanding of what that experience might be like, and hopefully it allows you to take a step off that brink and jump in something and you’ll be portraying it truthfully.
So, are you a fan of the MCU, have you seen some of the other Netflix Marvel shows, or the movies, or how about the comic books?
I’m a big fan, I’m going to go see the new Thor movie tomorrow night. Totally excited for that, I cannot wait. Thor and Wolverine are probably two of my favorites, very excited to see what Cate Blanchett does in this new role as well. I didn’t grow up reading comics, I’ve read a few since, for doing the show, and I can see why people love them. So easily digested, so great.
If you had the chance to whatever character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe you could, whether it be hero villain alien or otherwise, what character would you choose to play?
Oh I don’t know. You give me one, what do you think?
(gulp) Oh my. That is a real toughie in all honesty. Actually, given your wonderful portrayal of Oswald in that show I previously squee’d about, I think you could well do one of Punisher’s minions, I mean, associates. One who goes out and y’know, kills a bunch of people, sure, but also has a philosophical introspective side that nobody really expects.
(laughs) Right? I think any role they’re willing to give me in the Marvel Universe is good enough.
What can we expect to see from you in the future? I know you can’t speculate on if there’s going to be a Punisher season 2, but what are you personally doing after season one? What’s next for you?
I’ve got a new film, it just had the premiere two nights ago, a film with Lena Headey who did ‘Game of Thrones’ –
Oh, how did you manage that one?
She’s great, so lovely. It’s called ‘Thumper’, and it’s rather dark and gritty, trying to shine a light on a true part of American society, about a young group of teens who are drawn into dealing drugs and get involved with this very dangerous and charismatic cook, and when a young girl of apparent high school age comes in and gets mobbed in their group, how she sort of upsets the whole dynamic. It’s sort of like ‘Training Day’, its very street and intense.
That happens to be one of my favorite movies, I now have to check out this movie. Is it being released wide in theaters or is it kind of an independent deal, do you know?
I believe they’re releasing it on iTunes and Amazon on November 17th.
Same day as ‘Punisher’ comes out, whee!
Nope, my bad, ‘Thumper’ comes out November 7th.
Terrific, I will definitely check it out then.
And I should be shooting other stuff in New York fairly soon.
Do you have any spoiler-free teasers about your character and about the new Punisher show you can actually share?
(laughs) Get ready to hold onto your butts! It’s gonna be an exciting ride, and it’s not gonna let up. It’s a really really cool journey for Lewis. I know that doesn’t give you much to go on, sorry about it!
Oh, that’s fine. So again without spoilers, can you give us a “no sh*t there I was on the set of ‘Punisher’” story?
Probably looking at Jon Bernthal standing opposite me, and he’s getting into his rage zone, and he’s flapping and screaming and getting all worked up, and me having to step into the ring opposite him. It was like looking at a bull coming at you, so that was pretty damned exciting!
That is excellent and I love it. Thank you so much for talking with me, you have a truly wonderful day, and we all look forward to seeing ‘The Punisher’ very soon!