5 Action Stars Who Had Real Life Moments Of Badassery

One evening in the ’70s, Sirico was getting acquainted with a lady friend outside of a local church when some rivals spotted him and shouted his name. Sirico says he was “in no position to do anything, because I have my tongue deep down in her soul,” so the other guys seized their chance and shot him in the leg. Sirico saw red … on his precious suit. Angrier about the ruined pants than the ruined limb, Sirico started running toward their car. The shooters sped away, but as soon as Sirico turned around, they shot him again in the back. But it’s OK — according to Sirico, in the neighborhood he grew up in, “you either had to have a tattoo or a bullet hole. I had both.”

During his final prison stint at Sing Sing for one of his numerous armed robberies, Sirico watched a play performed by ex-cons and thought “I can do that.” After he was released, a friend (Richard Castellano, who played Pete Clemenza in The Godfather and was himself a Gambino family associate) helped Sirico get his first acting gigs. And he hasn’t stuck up a nightclub since — at least, not any that he’s owning up to.

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TV’s Punisher Impersonated A Cop To Catch A Purse Thief

Jon Bernthal is a TV actor best known as the Punisher in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead, and playing shady, violent law enforcers in general.

Jon BernthalBadass roles which he somehow got despite at one point using this for his headshot.

But in 2011, at least according to Bernthal himself, real life merged with Hollywood when he had an opportunity to punish an actual supervillain. OK, so “The Nefarious Purse-Snatcher Man” isn’t exactly Marvel material, but still, it’s a cool story.

In a 2012 interview on The Late Show, Bernthal recounted how he was driving home from the Walking Dead set in LA when he heard a woman on the side of the road scream, “Stop him, he stole my purse!” Bernthal, who is often cast as a police officer (due to his “broken-in mangled face”), claims that he forgot this was real life when he heard this incredibly cliche line and started pursuing the perp, especially driven by the fact that he saw the guy knock over a man dressed as Santa, because reality itself goes straight to video sometimes.

According to Bernthal, he chased the guy down like one of his TV roles until he was able to pull his car in front of the thief, flipping him over the hood. He got out and shouted, “Police! Freeze!” — but it was only at that moment that he suddenly remembered this was reality, he was unarmed, criminals are dangerous, and, unlike the Punisher, he was mortally susceptible to stabbing and/or gunshot. But shit, he was in the situation now, so he’d better improvise.

The criminal, perhaps remembering Bernthal’s face from Night At The Museum 2, demanded that the actor prove he was a cop. Bernthal figured “Well, I play one on TV” probably wouldn’t fly, so instead he opened his car door and dragged out his dog, telling the thief that his “police dog” would attack if the guy tried to get away. Of course, we’re talking about an ordinary dog here — according to Bernthal, it could at worst “lick the guy to death.”

This ridiculous ruse worked just long enough for the legitimate police to arrive, at which point Bernthal started to think that he’d probably committed more crimes here than the purse thief did (cops don’t look too kindly on the whole “impersonating an officer” thing). So he tried to slink away, but the victim suddenly appeared and fingered him as the real hero, due in no small part to Bernthal’s apparent inability to distinguish between movies and reality.

S. Peter Davis is the creator of the Three Minute Philosophy YouTube series, and is the author of the book Occam’s Nightmare.

Turn into a secret bystander savior yourself with *drumroll* a can of mace!

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For more check out 11 Celebrities Who Were Secretly Total Badasses and 5 Celebrities You Won’t Believe Were Badass Soldiers.

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