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Interview: Jon Bernthal Goes From The Walking Dead To TNT’s Mob City

When The Walking Dead premiered, audiences knew that one character that they might come to enjoy would most likely have a limited run on the show -- "Shane," the character played by Jon Bernthal, was killed off as early as the sixth issue of the original comic book series that inspired the show. While he was on, though, Bernthal impressed many viewers with his performance, and now he's reuniting with another person that was involved in The Walking Dead's early TV days, writer/director Frank Darabont, for a new TNT noir series titled Mob City.

MobCIty_ComicBookArt_struzan1The series takes place in 1940's Los Angeles over a backdrop that includes both real and fictional situations and characters. The cast is populated with many big names in addition to Bernthal - Jeffrey DeMunn (The Walking Dead, The Shawshank Redemption), Neal McDonough (Captain America, Desperate Housewives), Ed Burns (Entourage), Gregory Itzin (24), Robert Knepper (Prison Break), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Alexa Davalos (Clash of the Titans, The Mist) and Jeremy Luke (Don Jon) are among the ensemble that includes characters like "Bugsy" Siegel. In a telephone press call, Bernthal described the show as Frank Darabont's introduction of the noir genre to the long form television format, much in the same way The Walking Dead did so with horror. "He is very much a loyalist and enthusiast," Bernthal said, adding that the show is "really steeped in mystery" with characters that are "way ahead" of the audience.

"Once you sort of find out more about Joe [Bernthal's character, Joe Teague, an ex-marine assigned to a new mob task force] and what he has been through and why he is actually doing what he is doing, things will be a lot clearer. But I do think he is the man who has seen a lot of terror in his life; he has seen a lot," Bernthal explained, adding that Teague is more comfortable lingering in the shadows and protecting from a distance.

As mentioned before, Mob City offers a reunion for Bernthal with Frank Darabont, who really set the cinematic tone for The Walking Dead in the first season. "Frank and I were very much in communication after he left The Walking Dead," Bernthal shared. "I was still doing the show the plan was for the character Shane for him to die at the end of the season two. Before that had happened, Frank had talked to me and told me that he was writing something for me and, you know, that was just such an honor. I was unbelievably flattered by that," he said.

22451_004_3543_R_50011_6085_low.jpg"I went right on to do a movie when I got done [with The Walking Dead], and by the time I was  half way through filming in Shreveport, I got a script for Mob City, which was then called LA Noir," he told us, adding that when Frank Darabont calls and says he's got something for you, especially as a friend, you keey yourself available.

"I would walk through fire for him," Bernthal said. "I believe in him, and I believe in him as an artist and a person. So it was kind of a no brainer for me."

"I think he is also one of the great storytellers that this country has," Bernthal added about Frank Darabont. "I think he has created some of the best movies in the canon of American film, and The Walking Dead is one of the best shows. He is just an unbelievable storyteller. You just want to be working with somebody like that. It is a joy to say his words. It is a joy to crack open his scripts. It is an honor to crack open his scripts. He is a good, loyal man who really cares about what we do and really cares about storytelling, and really cares about the people that tell his stories."

Mob City premieres with its opening two hours December 4 on TNT.

About Craig Byrne, Editor-In-Chief

KSiteTV Editor-In-Chief Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.
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