One of my favorite actors in the biz these days, "Hung" star Thomas Jane never shies away from talking comics and comic book movies when I interview him. That didn't change when I spoke with him about the upcoming double-screening of "Dark Country," his noir-fueled directorial debut, at Long Beach Comic Con.
The film will receive two 3-D screenings this weekend, including a Saturday night screening with commentary from director and star Jane, production designer Tim Bradstreet (no stranger to the comics world there, either), and Ray Zone, the 3-D supervisor on the film. While we discussed "Dark Country" at length during the conversation, we also spent a little while chatting about past, present, and future comic book movies and his take on where the genre is headed.
"I think I dodged a bullet there," said Jane of "Jonah Hex," this year's critically panned live-action film based on DC's scarred bounty hunter. Originally rumored as a contender for the lead role, Jane confirmed that he read an early script and would've loved to star in a "Jonah Hex" movie — "but not the one that they did."
"The script that I read was totally different than the movie they ended up doing," he explained. "I think once Josh Brolin came on board, they changed directors and they changed writers and it turned into a whole different animal. The movie I would've done was a completely different animal."
But Jonah Hex is only one of the many comic book characters Jane's name is often connected with, of course. Probably best known for playing the title role in 2004's "Punisher," Jane's portrayal of Frank Castle is widely regarded as one of the lone positives in a long list of negatively received movies based on Marvel's gun-toting vigilante.
With the rights to Punisher recently reverting back to Marvel Studios, I asked Jane if he's heard from the studio about reprising the role.
"Not yet. The 'Punisher' franchise died such a grisly death that I don't foresee it coming back any time soon," he said. "But I hope it does because I have a great f---ing story that I want to tell, and using Frank Castle to tell it would be ideal. So I'm hoping that someday we revive that."
"But Disney now owns the rights to the Marvel characters, so that could present a challenge, too," he added. "I'm certainly not going to make the Disney version of The Punisher. But there might be a way to do it... It's in a bit of a quandary right now for how to do it and how to do it right."
I also got a brief update from Jane on "Criminal Macabre," the planned live-action film based on Steve Niles' hard-drinking, drug-abusing supernatural investigator Cal McDonald. Often used as the model for the "Criminal Macabre" cover art, Jane has long been spoken of as the go-to lead for the film.
"I hear that Universal is working on a script and I talked to Steve Niles not too long ago," said Jane. "He still says I'm his #1 choice to play Cal. I'd love to do it, but I'm getting old here, guys. I'd love it, though. That's one of the great ones."
Finally, Jane said the script for "Devil's Commandos" — based on Bradstreet's story of a WWII commando unit who finds themselves facing off against the armies of Hell — should be ready any day now. Written by "Jason X" and "My Bloody Valentine 3D" screenwriter Todd Farmer, the film is set to star Jane, and will be produced by his RAW Entertainment production company.
"When the script is done, I expect that we'll be able to sell it pretty quickly and get it set up somewhere," said Jane. "So that looks like next year's business."
Thomas Jane will screen "Dark Country" this weekend on Friday (October 29) and Saturday (October 30) at the Long Beach Comic Con. You can find out more information about the convention at www.longbeachcomiccon.com.