“My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable,” says Amber Rose Revah. “I’ve played so many different roles — I’ve played different ages, I’ve played a lot of different ethnicities. I always have different accents. I’ve learned different languages. But I think with this, the biggest thing for me, which it always is, is finding a character that’s a woman that’s three-dimensional. It’s few and far between that you have these characters, and Dinah really is that. And she’s got the balance of being kick-ass and physically able to do everything, and having a feminine side and having a weakness and being susceptible to other people’s manipulation.”
In other words, she’s human — a human within the Marvel Universe. Revah stars in Netflix’s “The Punisher” series, which itself lives a step away from the superhero-laden world of other Marvel films and series. While Jon Bernthal first took on the role of the former U.S. Marine-turned-vigilante Frank Castle — aka the Punisher — in “Daredevil” before getting his own spin-off series, Revah’s character never appeared in the comic books and was created for the series as a foil to the namesake main character.
“I’ve watched a bunch of the Marvel shows and I wasn’t, like, the greatest fan,” Revah concedes. “It’s actually my younger sister — she’s 20 years old, and she wears Marvel socks, she has a Marvel hat. And so she was just ecstatic when I was even reading for this job.” After being cast in the show, the world of fandom for the comic and show opened up to her.
“You know, it’s mad, every time I’m in the gym I think I notice someone different with a Punisher t-shirt. I think they imagine they can do more deadlifts if they’re wearing a big skull on their T-shirt,” she says. “But it’s brilliant, and you see it all over the place. It’s a bit of a sixth sense. I never noticed it before, and now everywhere I see a big Punisher skull.”
One of Marvel’s more violent franchises, the anticipated series was pushed back from its original October 2017 release date following the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, with Netflix canceling the show’s New York Comic Con promotional events. While it’s certainly not the only series where violence is integral to its premise, the prevalence of gun-centric violence in “The Punisher” places it in the nationwide conversation around gun control.
“I came over [to the U.S.] and I’d never held a gun before — and in Britain it’s illegal,” says the London-born actress; the U.K. has strict gun laws in place. “I was doing my training as Dinah would have done for her assignment, so I had to look as though I was proficient with it, but, certainly, it was strange for me. But with our show, we don’t have a way of glorifying guns, what we do is we bring up questions. And that’s very important, and I think that’s something that society is forgetting to do to some extent, to say ‘Why is this happening?’ I think we open up a question.”
Beyond the question of violence, the show also tackles the issue of veteran PTSD. (Joining that conversation as well this fall was the October film release “Thank You For Your Service.”) Frank Castle and Dinah Madani are both veterans of the Afghanistan War, the latter working as a Homeland Security agent. “Veterans are expected to…just come back [to society] and integrate, and they have a week period which they give them, and it’s a lot more different than that,” says Revah. “And also the fact that within war and within violence, lines are very blurred…so the show deals with that as well.”
While preparing for the show — in addition to learning how to hold a gun and stunt training — Revah actually sat down to talk with a few Homeland agents.
“I went to their office and I had three brilliant agents, and I basically completely drilled them with everything under the sun, from finding out about their families, to how they turn off, to their psychology and their psyche and their drive, to certain tactical operations that they’ll carry out. That was absolutely fascinating; it really gave me a sense of Dinah’s day-to-day life.”
“There’s one brilliant thing which I wanted to discuss with them: what would you do if you felt there was corruption in the organization?” she continues. “Because, obviously, Dinah’s dealing with that. And then they told me the protocol of that, which is highly contentious, but I can’t say anything.”
So they actually told her?
“You see, I’ve got secrets,” she says, coyly. “They did, actually.”