Yes, Jon Bernthal, You Are ‘Sexy Enough’ to Star in American Gigolo

“I do not believe that I possess any kind of natural sex appeal,” Bernthal said on being cast in the new Showtime series. Sir, you are mistaken!

Yes, Jon Bernthal, You Are ‘Sexy Enough’ to Star in American Gigolo

I wish I could write that it was Jon Bernthal’s truly transcendent portrayals of deeply flawed men, infected by strains of toxic masculinity so noxious that a hazmat suit would be necessary to get within five feet of them, that spurred my interest in the scene-stealer. Unfortunately, it was the following quote from a 2016 interview with GQ wherein Bernthal, a talent still burgeoning, discussed taking a sex scene during his stint on The Walking Dead a little too seriously: “I had this idea that when we met in the woods, I should turn Sarah over,” he said. “We’re in a zombie apocalypse. It’s carnal. We just want to fuck, you know? And I hear calling from behind the monitors: ‘Stop thrusting!’”

“What’s that sound?” you might ask yourself as you read on. It’s nothing, just the suction of fluoropolymer being pried from my skin. As writer Nichole Perkins pointed out in a Twitter thread, all of Bernthal’s sex scenes tend to maintain a “feral intimacy, a potent blend of fierce tenderness.” And because my job requires me to fact-check, I can confirm this. It’s also very likely the reason for which he scored a starring role as the titular sex-worker in Showtime’s upcoming take on American Gigolo.

In the trailer released today for the eight-episode series, Bernthal’s character—much like the 1980 film of the same name starring Richard Gere—is wrongfully convicted of murder after being framed, and is jailed for 15 years. Upon exoneration, he sets out to seek the who, what, and why of it, all the while having sex with a few dozen women. Believe it or not, the original film is not fondly remembered for its plot; instead, it’s regarded among viewers for the pièce de résistance that is a full-frontal Gere. No word yet on just how Showtime’s iteration will honor the original, but reader, if it doesn’t involve even a tasteful cutaway shot, we’re rioting. Even still, a show whose entire premise is literally just Bernthal thrusting his way to the truth is one I’m cocksure I’ll enjoy.

Despite how…excited…a subsect of the internet might be about the announcement, others weren’t immediately convinced of Bernthal’s prowess—including the man himself.

“I do not believe that I possess any kind of natural sex appeal,” Bernthal just revealed in a recent interview with GQ. Of the upcoming role, and another in Lena Dunham’s Sharp Stick, he said he accepted the parts 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,’” Bernthal added. These are bold statements from a man who looks the part of a young Robert De Niro or, better yet, a charming boxer with cauliflower ear and a cousin who touts Trump ideology. In the same interview, the actor confided he’s often felt “ugly” and compared himself to a “mongrel.” I mean, if he wanted this bitch to bark he could’ve just asked.

Raw sex appeal aside, Bernthal has done plenty of cool and slutty things like denouncing Kevin Spacey, threatening to beat Oliver Stone’s ass, and basically, just putting on a master class in acting via several iconic roles like dirty cop Wayne Jenkins in HBO’s We Own This City and tennis coach Rick Macci in King Richard (which—if you don’t recall due to The Slap—swept the 2022 Academy Awards).

Like all men (OK, people!), Bernthal has his flaws—namely, a very well-documented history of pro-police sentiments. But as the old adage goes: I can fix him.

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