*Jason R. Moore may play a veteran in “Marvel’s The Punisher,” but his appreciation for America’s finest expands beyond the Netflix hit series.
That appreciation seeps into Moore’s work on and off screen. As Curtis Hoyle, a friend of The Punisher, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), and counselor who provides support and therapy for veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Moore provides a platform for participants to freely express themselves on issues that strike a nerve with military men.
Set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Punisher” centers on Frank Castle, who deals with the aftermath of avenging the death of his family upon discovering a bigger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family. Chatting with EURweb, Moore relayed that while he watched “The Punisher” movies that came out in 1989 (“The Punisher” with Dolph Lundgren in the title role), 2004 (“The Punisher” starring Thomas Jane) and 2008 (the Ray Stevenson headlined “Punisher: War Zone”), the big screen adventures of Frank Castle failed to strike a nerve with him, compared to the hero’s exploits in the pages of Marvel Comics.
“Here’ the thing with the other “Punisher movies. For me, I’m not talking about anyone else, but for me, they just never really got my imagination as I read the comics. They just didn’t fully achieve that,” Moore stated. “It was a lot to do with the style of movie at that time. Especially superhero movies. They were cheesy and a bit based out of reality…but I saw them.”
“The Punisher” film series may not have won over Moore, but Netflix, with its reputation for edgy programming and focus on staying true to the titular hero, did. Success found in Marvel shows such as “Daredevil,” Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist” and the all-star team-up “The Defenders,” proved how appealing Netflix was to Moore.
“I made the connection early on. Considering ‘Daredevil’ and then considering this was gonna be on Netflix and other things that be on Netflix, I was like, ‘Hold on. They have the opportunity to do it right’…and there’s no limit to the violence that they can do because it’s not on network television. It’ on Netflix,” “The Sourcerer’s Apprentice” actor explained. “And so I got the first script and I see what was going on. I said, ‘Ok, great.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, they’re gonna go there with this. And then script after script, I was like, ‘Yes, they’re going there. And I knew they couldn’t do that on any other network on TV. I saw it coming and fully expected ‘The Punisher’ to be realized in its comic book capacity, like on TV, which is great in terms of the violence that comes with ‘The Punisher.’”
While much of “The Punisher” centers on Frank Castle and the story behind the death of his family, the character’s military background is equally highlighted via occasional flashbacks and appearances at Curtis’ veterans support group. Curtis, a former US Navy Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman, is one of the few people associated with Frank who knows he’s The Punisher.
Through “The Punisher” series, Moore’s awareness of issues affecting veterans reinforces his belief that that current and former military members deserve a lot more than what they’ve been getting from the country they serve and would die for.
“My thoughts on vets have been kind of established long before ‘The Punisher’ was even an idea for Netflix,’ said Moore, whose sister and cousin served in the Army and Marines, respectively. “I would twist my head just like wondering how a government could send these people to war, bring them back and then just leave them be. And some being left on the streets. That was the main thing.”
Moore’s passion for veterans motivates him to take a stand as he observes hypocrisy by those in the government who publicly express their appreciation for people currently serving or have served in the armed forces, yet privately leave a lot to be desired as veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life.
“They continue to say, ‘We praise our vets’ and all, but then you got some on the streets. How does that happen? What’s going on there, right? And this was back when [the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks movie] ‘Forest Gump’ was new, alright. And so you’re like, ‘These were wars before my time.’ That kind of treatment, it such concerns me. It’s like they’re almost using it. Just like we talk about in ‘The Punisher.’ It’s like they’re using these people for other means. And once they come back, they’re just, ‘Alright, we’re done with you,’ the entertainer stated.
“It’s a big problem. There shouldn’t be a situation where you spend all this money to train these people, but then you don’t consider their return and training them and re-acclimating them back in to society. You put all the minds behind giving them the armor. You put all the technology behind giving them the proper weapons to kill efficiently and protect themselves and carry out these missions, but you don’t spend those resources on their return and them being re-acclimated back in to society and then dealing with issues that one could sustain coming from war. I have a big problem with that.”
“That was always my position,” continued Moore, who confessed to not having the answers in finding a way to resolve the issue. “I haven’t necessarily thought of a solution, but I’ve always had that position on soldiers returning from war and how the government treats them and how society always wants to praise vets because they feel like that’s the right thing to do. But when you see a vet on the street that is a representation of our society. Something’s wrong in our society when that happens, when vets can’t get something to eat or they can’t get the medical attention that they deserve or they need. That’s almost a condemnation of our society as a group of people and I think that we gotta fix that. We gotta turn that around.”
If the reaction is any indication, “The Punisher” and Curtis Hoyle are on good footing with connecting to the military population. According to Moore, the response from veterans has been “heartfelt.”
“I must say that I’ve been getting some very heartfelt reactions from vets. They come to me with some of the most visceral thank you’s because of what Curtis is doing. And sometimes, they even start to talk to me as if I am Curtis, which is great. I find that endearing,” the actor said while recalling the love “The Punisher” received for its attention to veterans’ issues at a recent convention.
“They gave me coins and they’re just so in love with the way that we handled that in such a respectful way, in a way that they felt was the realest they have ever seen. I felt humbled because of the reaction from vets. They love it. I have not seen a negative response. I have not gotten a negative response, said Moore, . “I hope we do [veterans] justice when you see it because part of my research is where I sat down with vets and I spoke to them so that I can understand the psychology of it. Like, how do they think and how do they behave? And how does going to war and training and being in the military affect who they are? I wanted to get that understanding because I didn’t serve. I wanted to get that understanding more than anything else, in comparison to the counseling, all that stuff. That would come later. I wanted to understand the psychology of vets and ones who are suffering from PTSD. And so we took that very seriously.”
Understanding veterans was only part of the research done by Moore, who’s character lost the lower part of his left leg in combat. Curtis’ situation provided a prime opportunity for Moore to learn about living as a disabled veteran. The experience proved invaluable in helping Moore fully capture Curtis beyond his life as a counselor.
“I sat down with guys who lost limbs and just kind of watched them live with that leg being gone or from the knee down being gone. That was the physical part that I was doing research on, he said. “What I learned was sometimes they’re gonna have a limb, sometimes they’re not. The technology is so spot-on that you’ll never be able to tell this one has a prosthetic limb, if they have long pants on. You won’t be able to tell because they’re walking normally, have a normal gate and you just won’t tell. So I incorporated that in to my performance also, but that was the other aspect of my research.”
While he learned a lot to bring to Curtis, Moore credits the real-life veterans he spoke with on and off set for helping him nail his role.
“Those guys in the circle in the first part of the show, they’re all vets. We had real vets on set and onscreen too. If a thought came to mind, I would just lean over and ask them a question. And they were so gracious. They answered everything. They were so willing to help. And they provided me a tremendous wealth of information in preparing Curtis for them. So I have to say thank you to them.”
“The Punisher” is one of many projects marked with Moore’s fingerprints. Look for him to heat things up on BET’s “The Quad” as the love interest of Georgia A&M University president Dr. Eva Fletcher (Anika Noni Rose) during the show’s second season, which premieres Tuesday (Jan. 23).
Outside of the small screen, Moore does double duty as an entrepreneur with more than one small business under his umbrella.
“I started three, but right now it’s in two and there’s a couple of other ones that are a little premature to speak about,” said Moore. “Now, I have pretty much have a tech company, this lighting system that I hope will change the game in terms of filming and how people write film scripts and things. That thing is called Anthem One and I’m very proud of that piece, that product. And we just begun our launch. We’re ready for sales and everything is great. Everything is great on that one.”
Featuring a staff of “about 13″ with other staff members brought in as needed, Anthem One launched last year on November 28. Although the start-up hasn’t been on the public radar much, Moore has no problem with that “because we’re doing this all independently.
“We don’t have like some big marketing team behind us. This is like a door-to-door kind of salesman thing here. We want to minimize our expenses that way so that’s why we’re taking that approach.”
With the potential success of Anthem One, combined with the certified success of The Punisher, which has been renewed for season two, Moore won’t have any problems keeping the lights on with his activities. As for whether “Punisher” fans will see cameos from other Netflx Marvel heroes or references to MCU military veterans (Nick Fury, War Machine, Falcon, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, among others) in season two, Moore’s lips are sealed.
“'[Laughs] You know I ain’t gonna tell you. I’m not gonna ruin the surprise. Hey, I don’t even know that. They don’t tell us everything,” he said. “That’s part of their way of keeping things under wraps. They don’t tell us anything. I can’t answer that. I don’t know.”
One thing that can be expected for the next season of “The Punisher” will be “more Punisher,” according to Moore.
“I believe that we will meet the expectations when it comes to a “Punisher” show. We won’t skimp on the violence and the military aspect and the gun play. That won’t ever be skimped on,” he shared. “So you can expect that. More action and more Punisher violence for sure.
“In terms of Frank Castle and Curtis Hoyle, I mean these guys are brothers. I don’t want to give no spoilers in terms of people who haven’t seen the first season yet, but these guys are brothers. You see them working together and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see them working together on more specific missions in the upcoming season.”
“Marvel’s The Punisher” is available to stream now on Netflix. Season two of “The Quad” premieres Tuesday (Jan. 23) on BET.