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That time The Punisher's Jon Bernthal almost wound up in prison

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Jan 3, 2018, 8:19 PM EST (Updated)

You ever wonder why Jon Bernthal is so good at playing the excessively violent, titular antihero in Marvel’s latest Netflix hit, The Punisher? It's because in many ways, he’s lived it.

Granted, we’re not talking black ops and criminal underworld levels of viciousness, which are often portrayed on the show, but as revealed in a recent Esquire interview, Bernthal has certainly had his brushes with violence – even though he’s now trying to shake that aspect of his personality.

Still, there’s no denying where he’s been, and that at one point his freedom hinged on somebody waking up from one of his punches.

That happened in 2009, when Bernthal was living in Venice Beach, California. He was walking his pit bull, Boss, when a drunk guy allegedly grabbed the dog. After Bernthal freed Boss and began walking away, the drunk guy and some of his friends reportedly followed. When the guy wouldn’t heed Bernthal’s warnings, he walloped the drunkard in the face, knocking him out cold.

An hour later, the guy was still out, and Bernthal was cuffed to a police station bench. Having had police run-ins since his teenage years (many of which are lowlighted in the article), the cops admonished Bernthal: “If that guy doesn’t wake up, you’re going away for life.”

Fortunately for all, the guy survived, and Bernthal (and Boss!) have gone on to bigger and better things.

Now the actor hopes he’s learned from his mistakes, and that he’s teaching his sons to be better than he was growing up. “I know now life is more about working things out and heading off that violence,” he said, adding that “extremism and lack of compromise is the enemy of what I want to teach them.”

Whether The Punisher itself helps to teach these lessons is up for debate, though, so let us know your thoughts in the comments.