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It's Time to Make Jon Bernthal a Hollywood A-Lister

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In honor of Jon Bernthal's 41st birthday (born September 20, 1976) here's why I think the guy is overdue a seat at the Hollywood big table.

Jon Bernthal is one of those actors whose name you might not immediately recognize, but whose face you definitely will. The guy is a talented, versatile actor that's slowly but surely making a name for himself and it's very likely that if you've seen him in something recently.

It could be the high-profile TV roles like Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead and, most recently, Frank Castle/The Punisher in the second season of Daredevil that he's best known for. Hell, his performance as The Punisher was so popular with fans and critics, it earned him and the character a solo series set out to come out sometime this year.

You probably also know Bernthal from the string of small, but memorable supporting roles in several critically acclaimed movies he's had in the last few years. These include The Wolf of Wall Street, Fury and Sicario. This year, he even had two criminally short, scene-stealing performances in Baby Driver and Wind River

In just the last four years, he's worked with directors like Martin Scorsese, Edgar Wright and Denis Villeneuve, as well as sharing screentime with the likes of Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Blunt, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Josh Brolin and many, many others. 

No matter how small his role or how big the talent he's surrounded by is, Bernthal always holds his own and makes a lasting impression. He's handsome and charismatic, but is also very comfortable playing violent, crude and/or restless characters. There's an undeniable presence to a Bernthal performance, something very raw and expressive that just sticks with you.

My personal favorite roles are Shane in The Walking Dead and Grady 'Coon-Ass' Travis in Fury. Bernthal's Shane was TWD's first great antagonist. The character's downward spiral and his bitter rivalry with Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes were arguably the only things that made the show's second season worth sticking with to the end. 

Fury, meanwhile, gave Bertnhal the opportunity to play a very crude, almost animalistic character. 'Coon-Ass' is far from likeable - in fact, he's often downright vile - but Bernthal is so good in the role you just can't look away. 

His upcoming projects include First Man, the Neil Armstrong biopic by Whiplash and La La Land director Damien Chazelle, the as-of-yet untitled sequel to The Accountant, a starring role in a crime movie called Stingray and minor appearances in Steve McQueen's Widows and The Peanut Butter Falcon.

Most, with the possible exception of Stingray, are set to be supporting roles, which isn't a bad thing by any stretch - Bernthal's proven by now that he's an incredibly valuable supporting player, even if it's just for a five minute scene. 

However, I think he's also proven he's got the makings of a great leading man. He's got the talent and he's well on his way to gain the traction - consistently appearing in great movies and knocking popular roles like The Punisher out of the park will hopefully go a long way towards making him a household name. 

So what are you waiting for, Hollywood? Make it happen. Do yourself and the public a huge favor and make Jon Bernthal the star he clearly deserves to be.

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