Doug Hutchison as Punisher: War Zone's Loony Bin Jim
The third time was the charm for a certain Marvel Comics vigilante when Ray Stevenson stepped into the title role in Punisher: War Zone. To mark the big and banging action pic's arrival on home video (shop for the two-disc Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray format), Doug Hutchison — who plays Loony Bin Jim, the psycho bro of master villain Jigsaw, and now appears on Lost as Horace Goodspeed — gave us a peek inside his first "graphic" experience as an actor. Plus: Hutchison shares his take on one of cinema's greatest comic-book villains, Heath Ledger's Joker.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, I put you in that category of actors who when cast in a role, I get excited to see what they do with it.
Doug Hutchison: Oh, that's very sweet of you. Thanks for saying that.
TVGuide.com: I envision you as an actor's actor, the kind who pieces apart a role and then strives to bring an extra something to it. Fair assessment?
Hutchison: I think that would be a pretty healthy assessment. I actually shy away from roles if, because of the way they appear on the page, I feel I'm not right for them. But once my agent twists my arm or the director turns me onto a different perspective, I do find myself lending a lot of my own style to each role.
TVGuide.com: After a lot of character-y pieces that were comparatively quiet, what was it like to jump into something as big and loud as Punisher: War Zone?
Hutchison: It was kind of cool because that was a perfect example of me initially passing on the role. Even though I found it entertaining, I didn't relate to "LBJ" at all
TVGuide.com: Which is probably a good thing!
Hutchison: Yeah! [Laughs] I kept seeing something different and Steve Buscemi-esque, slithery and weasely.... But then [director] Lexie Alexander called me at home and pitched me over the phone, saying, "I'm really seeing this as a Hannibal Lecter-ish role." As soon as she said that, I had a vision for a quirky way to play it, while still bringing an essence of danger to the character.
TVGuide.com: As more and more comic-book baddies are brought to life on the big screen, does that make it harder to bring something new to the table?
Hutchison: I don't know if it's comics-related, but because I played such a plethora of villains in my career, I do find myself going, "What the heck can I do to make this different?" Punisher was fun in that regard because it is a comic and Lexie was extreme generous in allowing me and the rest of the cast to run. All of my instincts she confirmed for the most part. I wanted to shave my head? She said yes. I wanted to get progressively more and more damaged through the film, and she loved that idea. By the end of the film I'm a physical and emotional mental case.
TVGuide.com: Did the role give you a special regard for, say, what Heath Ledger did with Dark Knight's Joker?
Hutchison: Oh my god, yes. I was blown away by Ledger's performance. Punisher was such a different style from Dark Knight — it was less dark, less "real" — so I remember watching Ledger and going, "Holy s--t. He's blowing me out of the water with his interpretation."
TVGuide.com: Punisher: War Zone actually has been championed for being unabashedly "bang-bang" in a genre where our superheroes tend to get so dang cerebral. I think there's room for both.
Hutchison: I do too. Would Punisher have been a movie I saw? Probably not, because I don't gravitate toward action-type, graphic novel-esque movies. But when all was said and done, I was really proud of what we put together.
TVGuide.com: Is Ray Stevenson as physically imposing in person as he is as Punisher?
Hutchison: No, he's a sweetheart — but he certainly put in an impeccable performance as a stoic Punisher. It was a beautiful performance. Ray will talk your ear off, talk about his little boy and his wife. ... He's an extremely personable man, and talented to boot.
TVGuide.com: Before we go, I want to ask; What was your biggest take-away from being in The Green Mile?
Hutchison: Gosh, that's a good question because there was so much I took away. I've got to say, I think I was mostly humbled by the whole thing. I'd been pounding the pavement for 13 years when The Green Mile fell in my lap. So by the time I got that table read with Tom Hanks and James Cromwell and Harry Dean Stanton, I was in awe. You attempt to manifest this dream for all these years, that when it's in front of you it's surreal. Then you doubt yourself, "OK, can I actually go toe-to-toe with David Morse and Tom Hanks?" By the second or third day, those guys had made me feel like such a part of the family, I was moved.
Later this week, in Today's News: Doug Hutchison teases what's ahead for Lost's Horace Goodspeed.
Want more Punisher: War Zone goodies? Check out this exclusive offer for TVGuide.com readers — you can download a bonus Punisher: War Zone soundtrack at a special discounted rate. Check out 12 all-new tracks and download the album here!