Continuing its trend of casting lesser-known actors in star-making roles in its comics-to-film projects, Marvel Studios announced Thursday that the new ''Punisher'' movie will star Thomas Jane, currently one of the stars of ''Dreamcatcher,'' the new Stephen King movie. ''Thomas is one of our finest actors and comes from the indie world, as have other actors who’ve assumed superhero roles so successfully, such as Tobey Maguire ('Spider-Man') and Eric Bana ('The Hulk'),'' producer Gale Anne Hurd (''The Terminator'') said in a statement. ''We are thrilled that an actor of this caliber will be our Punisher.''
Like Jane, studio Artisan Pictures is known more for producing arty indie fare (like ''Requiem for a Dream'') than big-budget action spectacles. Then again, special effects should be less expensive than for other comics movies, since the Punisher doesn't have any superpowers. He's just a skilled commando with very large guns. By day, he's Frank Castle, formerly with the Special Forces and the FBI. By night, he's a costumed vigilante, seeking revenge on the thugs who killed his family and on the rest of the criminal underworld as well.
Jane is not as beefy as Dolph Lundgren, who played the character in the little-seen 1989 film version. He has, however, been making the transition from indie movies like ''Boogie Nights'' to more action-oriented roles in higher profile projects like ''Deep Blue Sea'' and HBO's ''61*,'' where he played Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle. He's probably best known these days as the fiancé of Patricia Arquette, who gave birth to the couple's first child in February, a daughter named Harlow.