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AICN Exclusive: Thomas Jane dropping out of PUNISHER 2?!?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here . I met Thomas Jane on the set of THE MIST. I didn’t spend much time chatting with him, but we did talk. He got pretty geeky when he started showing off his comic book work. He’s doing a few books with Steve Niles right now and we talked mostly about that on the set. He sent me pdfs of the books a few weeks back (I haven’t read them yet, but I’ll write up some reviews when I do), but that was about all the communication I had with him, although we did talk a little bit about PUNISHER and his thoughts on where it should go. His thoughts mirrored my own, which made me excited for a sequel. He wanted something more true to the books and said he was fighting the good fight. Then, out of nowhere, he sent me the following note, announcing his departure from the PUNISHER sequel.

Quint, I’m writing to tell you that I regretfully and painfully had to pull out of P2. I can’t tell you how completely broken up I am about it. After busting my ass at the gym four days a week for almost two years, watching every character driven action pic that any fan would ask me to watch while I was standing in line buying egg whites and Tuna fish (Leon the Professional, Oldboy, The Seven-Ups (GREAT flick), Point Blank, Escape from NY, The Driver, Magnum Force, The Mechanic, The Great Silence, Sexy Beast, Nighthawks, Cry Vengeance (check it out), Road Warrior, Man on Fire, Outlaw Josey Wales, Rocky (think about it), Serpico, etc etc etc.) after countless Saturday nights making notes and drinking soda water and munching on seaweed sticks while my daughter slept on my lap to the sound of automatic gunfire, (now she can’t sleep without it. I had to make a tape of automatic gunfire to play in her room at night) after hauling myself to any ‘Guns! Knifes! Ammo!’ show in any small town that I found myself in shooting Killshot or The Mist or Mutant Chronicles, after torn ligaments, screwed up rotator cuffs, thousands of $$$ on ridiculously huge vitamins, overly long conversations with frighteningly tall men about The Fastest Way To Kill Someone With Your Bare Hands, and after a dude refused to sell me a Fatburger at 2am on Santa Monica Blvd, I am, sadly – no, make that heartbrokenly – fuck it - just rip out the heart and stomp it into the pavement a couple of times – pulling out. Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves. I'm sharing this with you because I know you're a fan, like me, and you've got your ear to the ground, and because we seem to share the same sort of taste and passion when it comes to movies and stories that get us off. What I won't do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don't believe in. I’ve always loved the Marvel guys, and wish them well. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to search for a film that one day might stand with all those films that the fans have asked me to watch. Sincerely, Thomas Jane

Yikes. I actually think this is a good move for Jane. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (usually off the record) actors and directors talk about doing a shitty sequel or remake or adaptation because “If I don’t someone else will and at least I can try to steer it right.” That hardly ever works unless you’re in a position of power, or at the very least have a strong producer on your side. The first PUNISHER didn’t work, but I don’t think Jane was the reason for it. It just didn’t feel like I was watching Frank Castle and the sequel has a chance to fix that. Castle’s a great anti-hero, a hard-ass that isn’t afraid to confront the dregs of society with lethal force. He’s not someone who would torture a suspect with a popcicle. PUNISHER 2 is an opportunity to start off fresh. You don’t need to waste time on the origin. The character is established. At the end of the first movie we saw a glimmer of the Punisher we all wanted to see. Before I got this note, I had heard some disturbing things from my sources within Lionsgate. They can’t get anybody attached to this movie, no director wants to touch it thanks to a bad script and a lacking first film. The studio has been meeting with everybody, scrapping the bottom of the barrel. There was one person they met with that perked me up, someone that was actually an inspired choice to take on the Punisher films. A man by the name of Walter Hill. Can you imagine if he even brought an ounce of the coolness of THE WARRIORS or a sliver of the hard-ass Bruce Willis was in LAST MAN STANDING to the character of Frank Castle? And my sources say that Hill wanted to do the movie. Yet Lionsgate didn’t want him and are still searching… although I hear they’re close to locking down another director, but I don’t know who that is yet. I doubt he or she’ll be as cool as Walter Hill. So, there you have it. You heard it here first, straight from the man himself. It sounds like Jane wanted the same kind of Punisher movie we do. Too bad Lionsgate doesn’t seem to. -Quint

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