You may know him as Frank Castle or even the ketchup-loving Brad from Wolf of Wall Street, but before he broke into the Hollywood big leagues, Jon Bernthal made a name for himself through The Walking Dead and, more specifically, Shane Walsh.
He was the unhinged loose cannon to Rick’s calm, collected leader, and their fraught friendship served as the backbone for season 1. Bernthal’s troubled character was ultimately killed at the tail-end of season 2, and while he was understandably upset about leaving such a popular show, the actor knows all too well that it allowed his career to grow and evolve far beyond the wasteland of AMC’s zombie drama.
Appearing on WTF with Marc Maron, Jon Bernthal recalled his Walking Dead saga fondly, saying:
Finally we’re on a show, the show was super successful, and it was kind of tailor-made, it was right in my wheelhouse in showing something — I’d been doing like sitcoms and sh-t before that, stuff that I just don’t think I was very good at, and I love that character, it was such a beautiful character.
Because Bernthal grew so attached to Shane, it’s no wonder he found it incredibly difficult to part with such a raw, complex character. Still, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the actor knows it was for the greater good.
That had a real arc, it had real buoys along the journey that you could really show something with. And I thought sort of just my luck, I finally get on this hit show and then I get f—ing killed off it. But definitely looking in retrospect, doing the show was one of the best things to happen in my career. And getting killed off the show was equally as good.
The former Punisher star later returned for a brief cameo during Rick’s finale episode of The Walking Dead, though it’s looking increasingly likely that Jon Bernthal will continue to focus on movies and other TV series henceforth.