Little more than eye candy in 2002's The Sweetest Thing, 35-year-old Tom Jane—part-time stay-at-home dad to Harlow, his 15-month-old daughter with fiancée Patricia Arquette—scores with the comic book adaptation The Punisher.
ON HIS BREAKTHROUGH ROLE It's basically a '70s, stripped-down, bare-knuckle, punk-rock action film. That's what I grew up with, what inspired me to be in pictures. I've been waiting years for this sucker to come my way. [Costar] John Travolta called me after he saw the film and gave me great advice. He said, "Enjoy this, man, it's not always this easy."
ON HIS PUNISHING TRAINING I hit the gym twice a day for six months, mixing Filipino martial arts, hand-to-hand combat and firearm training. I put on 25 lbs. of muscle. The Krispy Kremes and Guinness came out the day we stopped. When the checks stop coming, I stop going to the gym. Patricia's like, "Get that cheeseburger out of your mouth and go to the gym, I'll write you the check!"
ON HIS COMIC BOOK COLLECTION
[In high school] I wanted to be a comic artist—I used to draw skulls on my notebooks. I collect 1950s horror and sci-fi comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. It's a dirty habit, and I'm trying to break it because they're from $3,000 to $15,000 apiece. [But I guess] they're gonna pay Harlow's college tuition.
ON PLAYING DAD It's the greatest thing that could ever happen to me. She's made me a better man. Patricia and I switch off [acting jobs] so someone's always with her. I watch SpongeBob and Teletubbies with Harlow. I gotta TiVo Teletubbies, I'm obsessed with it.
ON WEDDING PLANS
It's in the works right now, sometime this fall. Patricia's a lot better at planning. I think, as a man, my job is just to let her take the lead. She'll tell me where and when to show up, and I'll be there.—SONA CHARAIPOTRA