Jon Bernthal cast as lead in Showtime’s American Gigolo series

The Punisher star will play the role made famous by Richard Gere in the 1980 film of the same name

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 04: Jon Bernthal attends the Premiere of FOX's "Ford v Ferrari" at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 04, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The Punisher star Jon Bernthal has found his next lead role which will see him follow in the footsteps of screen legend Richard Gere.

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Bernthal has been announced as the star of American Gigolo, a new Showtime TV series in which he will play Julian Kaye, the part made famous by Gere in the 1980 film version.

According to the US network, the series will be a modern retelling of the original story, seeing Kaye struggle to make it in the sex industry in modern day LA.

It will follow him as he attempts to find out who was behind his arrest for murder 18 years previously, while simultaneously trying to reconnect with his love, Michelle.

In announcing the series’ pilot, Showtime Networks’ president of entertainment, Gary Levine, said: “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.”

Bernthal starred as main character Frank Castle in two seasons of Netflix’s Marvel series The Punisher before it was cancelled last year.

His other roles have included Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead, and film appearances in The Wolf of Wall Street, Baby Driver and Ford v Ferrari.

The American Gigolo pilot will be written by former Ray Donovan showrunner David Hollander, who will also direct the episode, while veteran producer Jerry Bruckheimer is set to executive produce.

No further casting announcements have been made so far.

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Following its release in 1980, the original American Gigolo – directed by Paul Schrader – was highly successful and is now credited for elevating Gere to leading man status.