Jon Bernthal has had a long and successful career, and he’s perhaps most notable for playing on screen badasses in projects like The Punisher and The Walking Dead. One of his most recent credits is a departure: Lena Dunham’s new dramedy Sharp Stick. And the Girls filmmaker explained to CinemaBlend how Bernthal contributed as both an actor and producer.
Sharp Stick follows the story of a 26 year-old babysitter Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), who begins an affair with her married employer Josh, played by Jon Bernthal. The King Richard contributed to Lena Dunham’s vision for the project as both a producer and a scene partner, as she played his onscreen wife Heather. I had the privilege of speaking with Dunham ahead of the movie’s release, where she spoke to her collaboration with Bernthal. As she shared,
Sounds like a dream team. Because while Lena Dunham was still very much at the head of the ship as Sharp Stick’s director/writer and cast member, she had Jon Bernthal to offer notes and to be a sounding board. And she clearly never felt that he was standing her way; it sounds like this might be the start of an epic professional relationship. He wouldn’t be Dunham’s first famous collaborator: Taylor Swift also got to offer her perspective on Sharp Stick.
Jon Bernthal’s Sharp Stick character Josh is unlike so many of the 45 year-old actor’s most iconic characters. His wife Heather seems to hold all of the power in their relationship, and he’s overall a goofy and lighthearted figure in the film. Later in our same conversation, Lena Dunham addressed this more buoyed side of Bernthal that appeared in her latest release, telling me:
The dynamics of power and status are definitely what makes this affair plot line such an interesting one throughout Sharp Stick’s 85-minute runtime. Eventually it all boils over (as so many affairs are wont to do) when Lena Dunham’s character Heather goes into labor. The truth all comes out in the explosive scene, where Jon Bernthal breaks down into hysterics when asking forgiveness. But Dunham revealed that emotional reaction wasn’t actually in screenplay, saying:
This sequence is cringe-worthy, hilarious, and emotional in a way that is signature Lena Dunham. And it sounds like it was truly elevated by Jon Bernthal’s expected interpretation of the material. From his performance to working as a producer, it seems like he was an excellent collaborator for Dunham to work with on her directorial return to feature films.
Sharp Stick is in theaters now, and Lena Dunham’s next movie Catherine Called Birdy is expected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. As for Jon Bernthal he’s going to play the lead of the American Gigolo reboot. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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