The Punisher and The Walking Dead star Jon Bernthal has just landed his next starring role in a television series, as the actor is set to become our next American Gigolo. This week, Showtime gave an official pilot order for an American Gigolo drama series inspired by the 1980 movie starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton. Described as a modern-day reimagining of the movie, Bernthal will be taking over Gere's role as Julian Kaye, following the American Gigolo story as it may play out had it taken place in 2020 rather than 40 years ago.
In the American Gigolo series, Bernthal's Julian Kaye is described as a man "struggling to make it in the modern-day sex industry of Los Angeles. Eighteen years earlier, he was arrested for murder. Now, he's trying to find out who set him up to take the fall, while reconnecting with his true love, Michelle." This is not dissimilar to the plot of the 1980 movie from director Paul Schrader, which follows a male escort (Gere) who inadvertently becomes the prime suspect of a high-profile murder case when he gets involved with a politician's wife. The movie was a critical and commercial hit, and Showtime seems to be hoping that success will carry over into the modern day with a new version of the story.
Ray Donovan showrunner David Hollander has also signed on to write and direct the American Gigolo series for Showtime. Recently, the network brought Ray Donovan to a sudden end after seven seasons, so it's nice to see Hollander is sticking around at Showtime by picking up his next big gig there. Veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer executive produces the project alongside Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed. Bernthal is on board as a producer as well in addition to starring in the series. Paramount Television Studios will also serve as the show's studio.
As a television actor, Jon Bernthal's breakout role came in 2010 when he starred as Shane Walsh on the AMC zombie drama The Walking Dead. Although the character was killed off by the end of the second season, he remains one of the show's most memorable antagonists. More recently, Bernthal snagged the lead role of Frank Castle in The Punisher on Netflix, a part he played for two seasons before the streamer axed the series. When the show was canceled, Bernthal told fans it had been an "honor" to play the character. Because his performance in the series was very well-received by fans, many continue to call for Marvel to revive the series with new episodes elsewhere.
"American Gigolo comes with all the sizzle you'd expect, but it also offers a deep dive into the complicated waters of relationships and sexuality in 2020," Showtime Networks' President of Entertainment Gary Levine said of the upcoming series in a statement. We'll see if the pilot manages to pick up a series order, but it certainly sounds like a great role for Bernthal. This news comes to us from Entertainment Weekly.