11 months ago
Jon Bernthal is an actor known for such roles as Sheriff's Deputy Shane Walsh in "The Walking Dead," vigilante Frank Castle in "The Punisher," and more recently, corrupt cop Wayne Jenkins in HBO's miniseries, "We Own This City." Bernthal is also the host of the weekly interview podcast series "REAL ONES with Jon Bernthal." https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrOR14O-kBHEyrLQRdHJgDQ
I think my third day there was my birthday. And, you know, again, just I lived in a place called Park Kulturi, which is Gorky Park. It's kind of a pretty rough sort of shitty area in Moscow. And I had a translator. I spoke no Russian at all when I first went over there. And my translator, Max, came and picked me up where I was living. And he took me to the Moscow Art Theater, which is on Tverskaya, right across the street from Red Square. It's a few subway stops in a couple of different directions to get there. And once we got there, the one thing that they tell you that's absolutely essential at all times, you always have to have your papers back then. At that point, the mayor ran the mafia, the mayor's police. They didn't really have a salary. They made their money by what they could sort of shake people down for. So we get to the theater, you know, on my birthday and my first day of school. And I think like I'm actually making something in my life. I'm here in Russia, but me being the fuck up that I am, I forgot my papers because I'm just an unadulterated asshole. And I said to Max, man, I'm so sorry, man. I forgot my papers. You know, and he said, OK, well, we got to go back and get them. And I said, no, man, let's just go into school and we'll do it the next day. He said, no, they're not going to let you into the school without your papers. Let's go back and get them. I said, look, man, I'm a grown ass man. Let me go back and get my papers. You don't have to come with me. You just took me here. So I convinced him to let me go by myself. And then again, me being the asshole that I am and everything's in Cyrillic, I couldn't read anything. I got completely fucking lost. And I just had no idea where I was. I'm three days in Russia. I'm it's getting dark. I'm screwing up. I finally make it back to my place. I get my papers. I make it back to the school. But now I've missed the first day. It's like completely dark and I'm on the wrong side of Tverskaya, which is like this main street, about 16 lanes. And I got to get to the other side to get to school. And I just start kind of like like Frogger. I'm like dodging cars like a total asshole. I'm like, I can't get to the other side. As soon as I get to the other side, boom, AK-47 is in my face. Russian police are right there. They get me for crossing. You're supposed to cross below. I didn't know that. They're yelling at me in Russian. I give them 20 rubles. They let me go. And I'm just like just such an asshole. It's my birthday. I've missed my first day. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. And so I do what any good American would do. I go and treat myself to the meal at McDonald's. Right. So I go and I get myself some McDonald's. Happy birthday to me. You're a fuckup. Right. Then I'm going back that night and I'm back in Parkour and I'm walking down the street. I'm all by myself. It's pitch blackouts, cold as fuck. And I'm walking down the street and this Mercedes pulls up in front of me and these two guys get out of the front seat and they reach into the backseat and they grab something out. And I see it's this woman with beautiful red hair and she's in like a like beautiful cocktail dress. And they're pulling her out of the backseat of this Mercedes. And I'm the only one on the street and they clearly don't see me. But this woman sees me. She makes like direct eye contact with me and they're pulling her out of the side. They're pulling her out of the backseat. She's not fighting them, but she's not helping them either. She's just like completely limp and just being dragged. They take her over to this building and they just start like opening her head up against the side of this building and start smashing her head. So I like forgot where I was and like I ran at this guy and I grabbed him in English. I'm like, man, what the fuck are you doing? What are you doing? And he just pulled out a gun. He just put it like right to my forehead. And he said in English, he's like, go away like that. And you know, Joe, I knew like in an instant, man, I knew in an instant that like it was like I was a bug, like I was a bug, like that was a different. I'd met I'd seen guns before I'd seen stuff before. I just knew that this was a completely different level. And so I walked away listening to that, listening to what they're doing. And I was like day three. So that's on the brutality side of it. But I think conversely on the beauty side of it, you know, there was just it was it was a culture that I found like completely full free of pretension. You know, if you have a conversation with somebody, you really have a conversation. You look in the eye and there's no hey, how you doing? Hey, I'm doing great. There's no bullshit. It wouldn't be strange or weird for to have somebody break down in tears in your first meeting and talking to them and not because they're sort of like emotionally fragile or weak, but because they're just so honest. And in the moment, I saw this unbelievable national appreciation for the arts. I saw people who, you know, you go on the subways and people weren't reading Us Weekly. They were reading Bulgalkov and Tolstoy. It's an unbelievable, unbelievably literate society. Yeah, I don't know, man. I'm so grateful for my time there. And yeah, it really, you know, Alman and that place really, really saved my life.