Billy Russo's life has changed forever. In The Punisher Season 1, Frank Castle exacted revenge on his former brother-in-arms for the murder of his family by beating him within an inch of his life. According to Russo actor Ben Barnes, his character will grapple with the repercussions of this in Season 2. During a set visit attended by CBR, Barnes revealed that Russo's injuries have impacted his memory, which has turned him into almost "a different character."
"I think what I'm allowed to say is that it's not just about the physical. He's had his head very much traumatized in the same way that veterans receive these kind of head traumas and psychological trauma as well, so he's dealing with both of those things very much in a similar way to how veterans might deal with TBIs from coming back from war and everything," Barnes explained. "I think that that is what he sort of believes he's gone through and he's got brain damage and he's got severe issues with his memory."
"I won't go into specifically what he can and can't remember because that kind of ruins the story, but he's trying to piece together what happened to him and who he is and so there is the metaphor at one point used that his brain is the jigsaw which they're trying to put the pieces back together, or it's not necessarily about the lines joining up on his face, which is I think a much more interesting thing," he continued.
"After reading the first few episodes, I sort of saw where it was kind of going and that was something that was really exciting to me because it was almost like playing a different character from the first season without it being a kind of putting a cape on and a mask and going, 'I'm bad now,'" he said. "It's more so literally waking up and only knowing some things about yourself, and I think that that gives him his chance to sort of reinvent who he is, but he's also not necessarily got control over what he's thinking or feeling a lot of the time."
"That was really interesting for me, particularly because this is a character -- as I said -- whose sort of core drive was this sort of 'succeed,' narcissism, 'I'm going to put across my most charismatic, attractive qualities to the forefront and hope that people respond to them in the way that they always have and hope that people want to do things for me and with me because of what I put out there' and that is gone for him," he shared. "He doesn't believe he's that person anymore, and it's all literally been stripped away. So I came in on the first day and went, 'Right. Shave my head, then.' We've got to!"
According to showrunner Steve Lightfoot, Russo's scars will only serve to remind him of what Frank Castle took away from him. "I mean, obviously we left him at the carousel in a pretty bad way. He survived and he's sort of having to deal with that," he said. "I think the key thing is, emotionally, he's having to deal with everything he has sort of fought so hard for and everything that, in a way, he betrayed his brother to get -- money, power, status -- all of those things that sort of filled the hole in him, they've all been taken away, and he's sort of having to deal with that and coming to terms with the fact that Frank was the one who took that away from him."
"I guess that is... sort of signified more than anything by the fact that he now carries these horrible scars and that they're this physical representation every time he looks in the mirror of what Frank took away," he added. "So much, in a way, of how he defined himself was in his looks. It's sort of this visual metaphor for what's going inside him, and it's about -- for me, this season, the foot of it was, rightly or wrongly, Billy think he's the one who's aggrieved… We've sort of flipped the script on that, so that Billy is the one going, 'I'm going to make Frank pay, because look what he did to me.'"
Arriving on Netflix in January, The Punisher Season 2 stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, Floriana Lima as Krista Dumont and Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix.