Jon Bernthal: I’m not sexy enough for ‘American Gigolo’ reboot


Don’t ever call Jon Bernthal a sex symbol.

The “Punisher” star, 45, is set to play male prostitute Julian Kaye in the upcoming Showtime series “American Gigolo,” but he has a hard time accepting his sexual appeal.

Bernthal told GQ that he was astonished to be cast in the series, based on Paul Schrader’s 1980 film starring Richard Gere.

Focused on a male escort who becomes entangled in a murder, the movie became iconic for Gere showing off full-frontal nudity.

“I do not believe that I possess any kind of natural sex appeal,” Bernthal told the outlet. “I’ve always looked at myself as this weird-looking guy.”

The “Wolf of Wall Street” alum went on to say that his costume included “a fancy suit and some shoes that hurt my feet,” a “goofy” shirt and many gold chains.

“It’s crazy to me,” Bernthal said. “But it scares me — and that’s why I’m gonna see it through.”

Frances Bergen and Richard Gere in the 1980 film “American Gigolo.”
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Bernthal is also starring in Lena Dunham’s 2022 Sundance film “Sharp Stick.” However, he said he took on both scandalous roles with “a real palpable sense of, ‘I’m the wrong guy for this. I can’t do it.’ ”

“And honestly, man? Maybe I can’t. Maybe these things will come out and people will say, ‘Well, he tried this, and he couldn’t do it,’ ” he added.

Bernthal also noted that taking a pause before accepting certain roles is part of his career. “I just really fundamentally believe you’ve got to pursue the things you’re scared of,” he continued.

“If you’re scared of swimming in the ocean, you’ve got to get in there. If you’re scared of being assaulted in the street, you’ve got to learn how to fight. You’ve got to run headfirst toward the fear,” the Washington, DC, native said.

“I do not believe that I possess any kind of natural sex appeal,” Bernthal admitted.
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The TV adaptation of “American Gigolo” is also set to star Gretchen Mol, Rosie O’Donnell, Lizzie Brocheré, Wayne Brady and Leland Orser. The series was first announced in June 2021 and will be a present-day reimagining of the original flick.

A sequel of sorts, it will follow Kaye 15 years after being arrested for murder, as he struggles to find his footing in the modern-day Los Angeles sex industry.

He goes on a quest to find the truth about being framed for a murder that sent him to prison almost two decades ago, and he also hopes to reconnect with his true love.