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Dissecting actor Thomas Jane

Jul. 24, 2012by: Andy Madrzak

"THOMAS JANE"

Thomas Jane is an actor, producer, director and easily one of the coolest cats in the biz. While he had a multitude of memorable roles throughout his 25-year long career, most cinemagoers know him for playing charming tough guys and suave bastards (often at the same time). Over the years, he continued to demonstrate a level of passion and earnestness rarely seen in a predominantly superficial business, having no problems with voicing his opinions and declining to take part in lucrative projects that he didnt quite believe in. But is there more to him than his cocky facade? Lets put him to the test.

BEST WORK


Get The Punisher on DVD here
Get The Punisher on Blu-ray here

What can I say I love the smell of controversy in the morning. The 2004 version of THE PUNISHER garnered a lot of criticism, mostly from fans of the original comic some of it deserved, some not so much. While it is true that the script took some liberties with the source material and Frank Castles MO was a bit too subtle for the characters brutal pedigree, I would argue that it was sort of the point. It was supposed to be an origin story and Castle didnt really become The Punisher until the very last scene of the film, although I can definitely understand why some people felt cheated, considering that the movies title was THE PUNISHER and not FRANK CASTLE: THE MAN THAT WOULD BECOME THE PUNISHER. Others claimed it was altogether a bit too lighthearted, what with all the comedic scenes involving Castles colorful misfit crew of neighbors. Fair enough, I guess, although a lot of the comic books while overall being a very somber affair also had quite a bit of dark humor to them (in fact, the neighbor characters were lifted straight from a Garth Ennis story entitled Welcome Back, Frank). Still, for all the excuses I could make for it, I do get why a lot of people seem to have a problem with this movie, its plot and tone in particular.

What I dont see anyone having much of a problem with is Thomas Janes portrayal of the titular character. While I feel like no movie version of The Punisher got it quite right, Jane came closest to knocking it out of the park. Both Dolph Lundgren and Ray Stevenson managed to capture the spirit of the character on some level, but Jane was the one actor that actually managed to breathe a sense of depth into the violent vigilante. In all the other film adaptations, Castle is pretty much a simplistic action hero, a tough-as-nails killing machine, his tragic past and motivations only vaguely hinted at. Janes performance focused more on the human element and the reasons why he does what he does, which simply made me care more. You might say that Jane has done better movies, but I feel like this is the one case where his performance took over the entire film and held it together. The actor shows off his chops, effortlessly switching between highly emotional scenes (like the death of Castles family) and full-on action hero mode (the films climactic mansion kill-a-thon). Jane clearly has a lot of passion for the character, which he proved not only by declining to participate in a sequel when he felt the script wasnt up to snuff, but also lately, with his kick-ass DIRTY LAUNDRY short film. Its a shame that he wasnt given the chance to build upon his first take on The Punisher. With the origin out of the way and Castle in full-on punishing mode, the character could focus on what he does best killing off scum and looking mighty bad-ass in the process. Jane could not only amp up the violence and streamline the story (both of which he professed when a sequel starring him was still a possibility), but also trim the fat off the character and become the ultimate on-screen Punisher, effectively turning it into a successful movie franchise a feat that still hasnt been accomplished. Alas, judging by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the aforementioned short film, there may yet be hope...

WORST WORK


Get Dreamcatcher on DVD here

On your long and treacherous road through life, youll undoubtedly meet people wholl defend this movie. Im not one of those people. Some call it a mixed bag, while I call it a jumbled mess and one of the numerous Stephen King adaptations that simply didnt manage to translate the original story into film in a coherent way. Some try to point out the positive things about it, but the only one that comes to my mind is that for a movie about aliens bursting out of peoples assholes, it had a surprisingly stellar cast. Whether or not the actors were used to their full potential is another matter entirely. To Janes credit, there are definitely bigger names in this one that do a worse job like the tragically miscast Morgan Freeman, who, while being a brilliant actor in his own right, could never quite convince me as a villain (I mean, cmon, how can you have any negative feelings towards Morgan friggin Freeman?).

Jane is simply alright in this one he doesnt have a heck of a lot to do, nor is there much to the character hes portraying, but I definitely wouldnt say he gave a flat out bad performance. He tries to make it work with what hes given and pulls off a relatively endearing good guy. But the character and charisma hes shown in spades in other films is nowhere to be found. Its just a forgettable role in an even more forgettable film. He can do much, much better than that.

TRADEMARKS


Get The Mist on DVD here
Get The Mist on Blu-ray here

Without wanting to sound too obvious, it needs to be said that Jane loves to play charismatic tough guys and hes damn good at doing it. Hes got the face, the voice, the physique... Not to mention the acting chops to pull it off. If anything, its surprising that he has never quite achieved the superstar status he was once headed for. For my money, the man could pull off pretty much any role demanding a highly physical, but not brain-dead or emotionally detached, performance. I keep stressing the emotional aspect, because thats one of the main things that stand out in all of the mans films. Sure, pretty much all of his characters are cool, tough dudes who can look out for themselves and casually kick all of our asses while doing it, but theres usually an emotional core to them. Just like he did with Frank Castle, Jane always manages to infuse a potentially straightforward character with a level of humanity, thats impressively believable.

One of the best instances of that was definitely Frank Darabonts adaptation of Stephen Kings THE MIST, which was a definite case of second times the charm in terms of Jane and King on celluloid. At the beginning, Janes David Drayton seems like a typical everyman a simple, though physically capable guy, whos thrust into a nightmarish scenario and has to protect his son. However, as the story goes on and the situation gets more and more intense, we see Jane mature the character and take him to unsuspected places. No time for fancy heroics here, no macho charisma, only a frail man fighting to save his loved ones. All of that culminates in the crushingly effective (not to say sadistic) final scene, which is incidentally the only major departure from the original storys plot. The sheer level of emotional intensity is almost palpable and it only works because of Jane (well, alright, the accompanying Dead Can Dance track also adds to the drama). The man acts the f*ck out of every second and at the same time shows that there is much more to him than the played out tough guy routine.

Then again, thats not to say that the actor cant reel it in, if the role demands it. Bronwen Hughes STANDER saw him portray the titular cop-turned-criminal with much more restraint, while still maintaining high levels of coolness and emotional depth. And then, of course, theres also a plethora of movies that simply didnt call for anything other than a straight up action hero such as the loveably campy DEEP BLUE SEA, with smaller but nonetheless memorable turns like the one in BOOGIE NIGHTS somewhere in between. The latter was also probably the closest thing to a straight up comedic performance the actors ever done (apart from the brilliant little cameo as part of the Vegan Police in Edgar Wrights SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD). What Im getting at is and I know Im starting to sound like a broken record, because Ive said the same about the actors previously dissected in this column Thomas Jane is a versatile and altogether capable actor and it would be a great loss to pigeonhole him as a one trick pony. Even if it happens to be a cool-as-f*ck gun-toting, dick-swinging, baddie killing beast of a pony.

HIDDEN GEM


Get Dark Country on DVD here

Janes career saw an interesting turn in the past couple of years, as he went the route quite a few before him ventured (with varying degrees of success) and branched out into directing. In 2009, this resulted in one of the more intriguing films hes been involved in DARK COUNTRY. While its far from a perfect movie and its creator himself would be among the first to admit its shortcomings, its still a precious little gem of a genre flick. Part Hitchcockian mind-f*ck, part supernatural horror, all drenched in thick noir atmosphere and accompanied by a captivating score and captivating visuals. Jane does a great job pulling double duty, giving a natural and convincing lead performance and providing an altogether focused direction. Yeah, the films big twist is a bit predictable and the story might not make a whole lot of sense once you really dig into it, plus, the whole thing is undeniably heavy on style and a bit low on substance (which is what I also heard said of Janes entire career), but its still a thoroughly entertaining ride thats got passion project written all over it. Do yourself a favor and check it out, if you havent yet had the chance.

NEXT PROJECT


Preorder "Hung" season 3 on DVD here
Preorder "Hung" season 3 on Blu-ray here

Speaking of branching out, Jane was never ashamed of his love for other forms of storytelling, comics being his particular forte. For the past several years, hes been running Raw Studios alongside long time pal and renowned artist Tim Bradstreet, while also garnering some well earned acclaim with the TV series Hung, for which he was nominated not once, not twice, but a whopping three times for a Golden Globe. Busy as ever, he currently has several projects lined up, most interesting of which are AN HONEST THIEF, which will see him as an archetypical thief with a heart of gold trying to stop a serial killer, and THE REDEEMER, in which hell tread familiar ground, playing a pissed off tough-as-nails detective on a bender. Though details are scarce at this point, were bound to be seeing Jane in more features, as HBO decided not to renew Hung for a fourth season. Any way you slice it, were not in a position to complain.

OVERALL


Get Deep Blue Sea on DVD here
Get Deep Blue Sea on Blu-ray here

While Thomas Jane enjoys a level of success many could only dream of, Im keeping my fingers crossed that we have yet to see the best of what he has to offer. In whatever way he chooses to fuel his passion be it as actor, director, writer or cigar aficionado I know itll be worth checking out. There are too few guys out there like him, wearing the love and passion for what they do on their sleeve and that alone makes him a force to be reckoned with. Hollywood beware.

Extra Tidbit: At the age of 18, Jane had to live out of his car and earn a living doing street performances. As the man himself recalls: "I had two songs in my repertoire that I hammered to death, 'Hey Joe' and 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door'. People used to pelt me with change just to shut me up."
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1:23PM on 07/25/2012

To AndyMad

I can ask any film fan in their 20's or 30's who are only aware of Thomas Jane. They all would undoubtedly tell me in a instant, "Thursday" was his best movie. For fuck sakes it was the one movie that rocketed him to getting more parts in movies. Without "Thursday" their would be no tough guy Tom Jane movies today.
Now that you stated you've seen "Thursday" makes your post (Your Opinion even worse.) You really need to questioning your overall taste in movies when you select Punisher as his
I can ask any film fan in their 20's or 30's who are only aware of Thomas Jane. They all would undoubtedly tell me in a instant, "Thursday" was his best movie. For fuck sakes it was the one movie that rocketed him to getting more parts in movies. Without "Thursday" their would be no tough guy Tom Jane movies today.
Now that you stated you've seen "Thursday" makes your post (Your Opinion even worse.) You really need to questioning your overall taste in movies when you select Punisher as his best work. Just shameful. This is like saying you are a huge fan of Robert Deniro and that his best movie was "Rocky and Bullwinkle."
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10:18PM on 07/24/2012

This requires a double post.

Absolutely shocking at the mere fact that this post was written by someone who is actually 28 years old? Judging by the movies you selected for this actor, I would've guessed you were born around 94. Obviously this would make you ten years old when "Punisher 2004" was released. I have only known people who were between the ages of ten and fifteen who actually dug that horrible rendition of Punisher. I am a fan of Thomas Jane and I will say he is not Frank Castle. I do want to state that every
Absolutely shocking at the mere fact that this post was written by someone who is actually 28 years old? Judging by the movies you selected for this actor, I would've guessed you were born around 94. Obviously this would make you ten years old when "Punisher 2004" was released. I have only known people who were between the ages of ten and fifteen who actually dug that horrible rendition of Punisher. I am a fan of Thomas Jane and I will say he is not Frank Castle. I do want to state that every single Punisher movie released to date are terrible and desperately needs a Nolan make over. I would expect Thomas Jane to be offended if he read this post. You wrote an opinion about someone you do not know enough about which makes your opinion baseless. It is sad reading all the other post from people on this board claiming to be fans of Thomas Jane when they all have no clue of the existence of the movie "Thursday."
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8:13AM on 07/25/2012
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can feel his love for the character).
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5:55PM on 07/24/2012
Tom Jane is a badass. I'd love to see a Punisher TV show starring Jane in the future.
Tom Jane is a badass. I'd love to see a Punisher TV show starring Jane in the future.
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5:42PM on 07/24/2012

TOM JANE IS THE MAN

My title says it all! Actors like Jane are too few and far between. The man really seems to pick roles that he fully believes in and it shows in his acting. I have to agree that while the Punisher isn't his best movie it definitely deserves to be at the top of the the list. His performance grounded the whole film and made it easier to ignore some of the flaws. He is by far the best portrayal of the Punisher on film. Like you said he mostly played the MAN Frank Castle and didn't become THE
My title says it all! Actors like Jane are too few and far between. The man really seems to pick roles that he fully believes in and it shows in his acting. I have to agree that while the Punisher isn't his best movie it definitely deserves to be at the top of the the list. His performance grounded the whole film and made it easier to ignore some of the flaws. He is by far the best portrayal of the Punisher on film. Like you said he mostly played the MAN Frank Castle and didn't become THE PUNISHER until the very end. I loved the scene at the end when after killing everyone responsible he puts the gun to his head and is ready to end it all. It was quite a powerful scene.
Oddly enough my other favorite role from him also includes an attempted suicide. His acting made the ending of The Mist so incredibly heart breaking. The MIst was the first movie that I sat and stared at the credits for 10 minutes after. I was so completely in shock from what I had just seen. His performance sold the whole ending for me.
As far as most memorable role from him I would have to say his small part in Boogie Nights as Dirk Digglers shady friend. The scene at the drug dealers house (MOTORING!!) is the best scene in that entire movie and alot of it is due to Jane's whacked out performance. I always forget that it is him. In short Tom Jane is awesome and needs more work!
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12:10PM on 07/24/2012
Jane is on my radar since I saw him back in Deep Blue Sea. He really has talent and a leading man charisma, even in The Sweetest Thing. I agree, The Punisher is his best work and The Dreamcatcher is his worst to date. I checked out Dark Country. It's not a perfect film but it showed Jane really had an eye for a director. Hopefully someone will finance the new Punisher movie and fingers crossed that Jane will be back as Frank Castle.
Jane is on my radar since I saw him back in Deep Blue Sea. He really has talent and a leading man charisma, even in The Sweetest Thing. I agree, The Punisher is his best work and The Dreamcatcher is his worst to date. I checked out Dark Country. It's not a perfect film but it showed Jane really had an eye for a director. Hopefully someone will finance the new Punisher movie and fingers crossed that Jane will be back as Frank Castle.
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8:10AM on 07/25/2012
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can feel his love for the character).
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8:01AM on 07/25/2012
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can feel his love for the character).
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8:01AM on 07/25/2012
Seb: As I stated in the article, it's by no means the best movie he's done. I focused solely on Jane's performance and for all the film's flaws, I still believe that his portrayal of Frank Castle was excellent.

Meat Bat: You have every right to disagree with the selection of movies covered and I'll give you that THURSDAY warranted at least a mention, as it is a great flick. It's just a bit of a shame that you instantly assume that someone with a different opinion than yours has to be young
Seb: As I stated in the article, it's by no means the best movie he's done. I focused solely on Jane's performance and for all the film's flaws, I still believe that his portrayal of Frank Castle was excellent.

Meat Bat: You have every right to disagree with the selection of movies covered and I'll give you that THURSDAY warranted at least a mention, as it is a great flick. It's just a bit of a shame that you instantly assume that someone with a different opinion than yours has to be young and clueless.
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7:18AM on 07/25/2012
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can
GOD! How can you say that this awful flick is his best work!!!???? Thomas Jane made so many great, cool and kick ass movies and you come up with the Punisher as his best work?... besides him doing what he does best with the character, this film had a terrible script and didn't feel like a punisher movie...AT ALL!. Even though I dug a lot his recent short film, he is not Franck castle period. He can be whoever other superhero in the world, I would love that but not Castle (even though we can feel his love for the character).
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1:30PM on 07/24/2012
I am sorry to be a dick but this was an atrocious article.
Clearly you do not have any fuckin clue what Tom Jane's best movie is.
Please note this to thy self; Rent a movie called "Thursday." Make sure you get the Directors Cut.
I am sorry to be a dick but this was an atrocious article.
Clearly you do not have any fuckin clue what Tom Jane's best movie is.
Please note this to thy self; Rent a movie called "Thursday." Make sure you get the Directors Cut.
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7:54PM on 07/24/2012

"I Melt With You".

I seen that movie three times on DVD, my brother bought the Blu-ray. I am very impressed with his performance in that movie, so are the three male leads in the movie. Perphas one of his best movies as well is "The Mist" and "Deep Blue Sea". The Extended Cut of "The Punisher" is much better cut than the R-Rated Version. I liked his comedic performance in "The Sweetest Thing". Perphas "Stander" is one of his least seen movies and one of his best roles to date along "I Melt With You". Like "The
I seen that movie three times on DVD, my brother bought the Blu-ray. I am very impressed with his performance in that movie, so are the three male leads in the movie. Perphas one of his best movies as well is "The Mist" and "Deep Blue Sea". The Extended Cut of "The Punisher" is much better cut than the R-Rated Version. I liked his comedic performance in "The Sweetest Thing". Perphas "Stander" is one of his least seen movies and one of his best roles to date along "I Melt With You". Like "The Sweetest Thing", i think "Dreamcatcher" is certainly an guilty pleasure. Not a great movie, modestly entertaining, unintentionally funny at times but it is undone by lousy third act and questionable conclusion.
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