At the end of The Punisher Season 1, Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle did some serious damage to the face of Ben Barnes' Billy Russo. Doing battle on a carousel, the titular anti-hero made creative use of some mirrors, and seriously sliced the man responsible for the death of his family. As seen in Season 2, Russo survived the incident with numerous scars, but if you're curious why the makeup team didn't make the damage more intense, there is a good reason, as I recently learned from the actor:
Billy Russo a.k.a. Jigsaw is a character recognized in the pages of Marvel Comics for having large, disfiguring facial scars, and after recently watching The Punisher Season 2 I was left wondering about the show's decision to tone down that element of the character. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ben Barnes and Amber Rose Revah earlier this week, and I used part of my time during the interview to discuss Jigsaw's look. Barnes admitted that at first he personally wanted the makeup to go further, but eventually understood why it was a situation where less would be more.
Those who watched the first season of The Punisher know that Billy Russo isn't quite right in the head, and it was eventually understood that the facial scars needed to strike a balance with that inner turmoil. Basically, as bad as he may look on the outside, psychologically things are a lot worse -- and that was something that Ben Barnes connected with the experience of wounded veterans returning home from war. He continued,
Deciding how much scarring Billy walked away with was very much influenced by the narrative direction in which The Punisher wanted to take him in Season 2, but also playing a role were avenues taken by previous adaptations of the character. Played by Dominic West, Jigsaw is the central villain in Lexi Alexander's Punisher: War Zone, and not only does he have much more extreme makeup, but he is also totally different than the version of Billy Russo played by Ben Barnes. This in mind, there was some freedom to try and do something different, as Barnes explained,
As was also discussed, however, Billy Russo's scars aren't the only new feature to adorn his face in the second year of the show. When the new season starts, Billy is confined to a hospital room under constant surveillance -- his memory fractured and needing to be put back together like a jigsaw puzzle -- and part of his therapy is that he wears a self-painted mask. Barnes told me that he didn't actually do the designs himself, but did get to choose from multiple presented options, and had specific reasons for the one he picked:
The Punisher is internationally recognized for the giant white skull on his chest, and while Billy can't remember who attacked him at the end of Punisher Season 1 when we rejoin him in Season 2, what he does remember (and seriously fears) is a giant white skill. He has regular nightmares featuring the image, and so Ben Barnes thought it would be appropriate that the mask externalize the character' internal horrors.
Going further, though, Barnes also noted that the skull-like mask deepens the connection between Billy Russo and Frank Castle, who he describes as "two sides of the same coin in a lot of ways." Not only do they match a bit in their aesthetics, but with his memories missing Billy also has a completely different vision of himself in his head -- a vision not unlike how Frank felt in Season 1. Said Barnes,
These are all ingredients that combine to create arguably the best arc in The Punisher Season 2 -- and audiences will be able to experience it for themselves very soon. New episodes of the Marvel Studios/Netflix show will be available to stream on Friday, January 18th starting at midnight PST.
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.