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Don't fool with a 'Punisher' named Jane

Tom Jane takes lead in comic-book-based movie

By Andy Culpepper

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Another Marvel comic book hero is hitting the big screen in the form of "The Punisher," aka Frank Castle -- and he looks a lot like actor Tom Jane.

If that name sounds familiar, but only half so, think Thomas Jane ("Deep Blue Sea," "The Sweetest Thing," Mickey Mantle in "61*"). The actor has dropped a syllable and added considerable muscle for his latest feature.

It's a role which didn't tax the wardrobe people much. Jane spends a good portion of the movie wearing a skin-tight T-shirt or going shirtless altogether.

His character, Castle, beefs it up and becomes a vigilante after losing his family in a shootout with a drug lord's hired thugs.

CNN sat down with Jane at the film's recent Los Angeles press day.

CNN: They worked you out and took full advantage of it.

TOM JANE: Well, yeah, that was our big production value. ... Six months of weight training and stuff and a special diet. ... It helps me create this kind of guy. [It's a] very physical part, and [the workouts] helped me do a lot of my own stunts.

CNN: Well, you make the rest of us feel completely out of shape, so thank you.

JANE: Oh gosh, you know, I hate the gym, [so] when the paycheck stops coming, I stop going to the gym.

CNN: There's a stunt in which you go through a wall. I watched and I was thinking, "How did they fake this?"

JANE: We didn't fake it. That's me going through the wall. I knew that going in that I was going to do a lot of my own stunts and I had the best guys surrounding me to make sure that I came through it unscathed, and worked very hard to make it real. ... You know, you really have to put in the hours if you really do want to do your own stunts, and it's something that takes a level of commitment that I felt would help me play this part, [so I did it].

CNN: I read that you had eight weeks of training with hand-to-hand combat and firearms. Boot camp is only about eight weeks, isn't it?

JANE: Yeah, that's right, it's about an eight-week boot camp, you could call it boot camp. I had a couple of Navy SEALs come to my house and beat me with a stick everyday.

CNN: Did it do something for your self-confidence?

Jane as the vengeful Frank Castle in "The Punisher."

JANE: Yeah, you know, they really break you down. They call you names, tell you you're a piece of crap. It's, uh, it's training. It helps.

CNN: The guy you're playing -- he's been around a long time, and I understand you were familiar with him. He's the most human [Marvel character].

JANE: He is the most human. He's also the most violent. He's the only character in the Marvel universe that actually kills people and he does it in a very creative and vicious fashion. He's a mature audiences comic book -- Marvel's only one -- it's not a comic for kids, it's a comic for adults. And it's not a movie for kids, you know, it's a movie for adults. In that way, we just can take the license to deliver a hardcore, bare-knuckled, stripped-down, punk-rock action film.

CNN: So you changed your name -- or have you always gone by Tom when you're not making movies?

JANE: Yeah. Tom. Everybody, everybody's always just called me Tom. Nobody has really ever called me Thomas.

CNN: Is Tom ready for how this is going to change his actor credentials, as it were? You've been a pretty serious actor, and now you're an on-screen comic book hero.

JANE: I've been waiting to do this kind of a part since I was a kid -- these kinds of '70s anti-heroic-style, bare-knuckle action films are what inspired me to become an actor in the first place. It's a hard type of film to break into and I've just been batting around trying to get one of these for a long time, so I gave it everything I've got, and I hope people cotton to it and I hope that I get to do another one.

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