Lena Dunham explains how Jon Bernthal contributed to Sharp Stick as an actor and producer


John Bernthal has a long and successful career, and he is perhaps best known for playing on-screen bullies in projects such as The Punisher and The Walking Dead. One of his latest works is “Departure”: Lena Dunham’s new drama “Sharp Stick”. And the Girls director explained to CinemaBlend what Bernthal’s contribution was as an actor and producer.

Sharp Stick follows the story of 26-year-old babysitter Sarah Jo (Kristin Froset), who has an affair with her married employer Josh, played by Jon Bernthal. King Richard contributed to Lena Dunham’s vision of the project as a producer and stage partner, playing his wife Heather on screen. I had the honor to talk to Dunham before the release of the film, where she talked about her collaboration with Bernthal. How she shared,

I wrote a part for him. We met and immediately became friends. I knew I desperately wanted to do something with him, and I wrote this part thinking about him. I sent it to him knowing he was incredibly busy and had a million offers. And maybe it’s not his business to show up for a week and play with this guy. And he literally said from the first day: “I’m for it.” Whatever it looks like. I’m here to support you.” He offered his guidance, he offered his notes. But what was so beautiful about it was that he was always there to give to the vision, not to take from it.

Sounds like a dream team. Because, while Lena Dunham was still in charge of the ship as director/screenwriter and actor of Sharp Stick, she had Jon Bernthal, who offered notes and was the mouthpiece. And she clearly never felt that he was standing in her way; it looks like this could be the beginning of an epic professional relationship. He won’t be Dunham’s first known collaborator: Taylor Swift also offered her point of view on Sharp Stick.

Josh, the character of John Bernthal’s “Sharp Stick,” is unlike many of the 45-year-old actor’s most iconic characters. His wife Heather seems to hold all the power in their relationship, and in general he is a silly and carefree figure in the film. Later in our conversation Lena Dunham turned to the more cheerful side of Bernthal, who appeared in her latest issue, and told me:

He plays so many interesting characters and they are often tough, strong, strong and intimidating. And it’s really cool to see him play this almost castrated guy who plays a secondary role in his life. One of the reasons he was so interested in Sarah Jo was that he could play an important role in her life.

The dynamics of power and status certainly make the storyline of this novel so interesting throughout Sharp Stick’s 85-minute running time. In the end, everything ends (as it happens with many cases) when Lena Dunham’s heroine Heather goes into labor. The whole truth is revealed in an explosive scene where John Bernthal falls into hysterics, asking for forgiveness. But Dunham revealed that the emotional reaction wasn’t really in the script, saying:

It wasn’t in the script that he was going to start crying hysterically. It was a more defensive tone. And he said to me, “I think this is the guy who, without even suspecting that he is manipulating people, starts crying when he gets caught messing around.” to show dominance. And he behaves like an oppressed person, so as not to feel like an oppressor.

This scene is worthy of horror, funny and emotional, which is typical for Lena Dunham. And it sounds like it was really sublime thanks to the expected interpretation of the material by John Bernthal. From his performance to working as a producer, it seems like he was a great partner for Dunham, with whom she worked on her directorial return to feature films.

Sharp Stick is already in theaters, and Lena Dunham’s next film, “Catherine the Bird,” is expected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. As for John Bernthal, he will play a major role in the relaunch of the American Gigolo. In the meantime, check out the release dates of the film in 2022 to plan your next movie.


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