Reacher star Alan Ritchson on replacing Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher: 'Enough people believe I am the right choice'
- In an exclusive chat, Reacher star Alan Ritchson addresses Tom Cruise comparisons and why he relates to the character while showrunner Nick Santora and author Lee Child also weigh in.
In his books, author Lee Child has described fictional investigator Jack Reacher as a hulk of a man, standing 6-feet-5-inches tall and 'built like a linebacker'. So when the film adaptations of the books cast Tom Cruise as Reacher, not many fans were happy. The new Amazon Prime Video series Reacher has set out correcting that folly.
The first step has been casting an actor who actually looks like Reacher. Alan Ritchson is not just tall, well-built, and blonde, but also an accomplished actor having worked in shows like Titans and Blue Mountain State. In an exclusive interaction, the actor opens up on replacing Tom Cruise and what he hopes to bring to the table.
Talking about his casting as the titular character and following Tom Cruise's footsteps, Alan says, "The process was long and time-taking. It took almost a year. But enough people believe that I am the right choice to get the job and I am lucky that I did."
Alan reveals that although he had heard of the Jack Reacher books, he became the 'biggest fan' in the one year period from when we first auditioned to when he landed the role. "I began reading it during the process and at that time there were 24 books. I read all 24 in eight months and became the biggest Reacher fan there is," he tells us.
Tom Cruise may be almost a foot shorter than Alan but he casts a giant shadow. The actor played Jack Reacher in two movies (Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) that earned close to $400 million combined. And Alan knows it's not easy to follow that. The 39-year-old actor agrees that despite his physical stature, he has big shoes to fill but he isn't nervous. "He is a tough act to follow. He is a living legend. I don't think I'm worthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as him. My job is to try and ignore anybody's pre-conceived notions about who Reacher is and bring to life the best Reacher that I see on the page. I think we have done that. I only have respect and admiration for what Mr Cruise brought to the franchise," he says.
But there are more similarities between Alan and Reacher than just the built and physique. The actor says like his character, he is a wanderer too and he even ran away from his home as a teenager. "There are parts of myself that I see in Reacher and vice versa. I'm a wanderer. I get bored easily. I started running away when I was 16. I wasn't escaping any real trauma. I just had to go," says Alan.
In fact, Alan shares that there was an occasion around 2010 when he did the most Reacher thing he can think of and chased down a robber even as his wife begged him not to. He recounts, "I desire justice and I'll risk life and limb to see it happen. I remember watching a guy break into a car one time and I chased him down. My wife was begging me, 'Don't do it. Don't chase him down!' and I had to because I saw him break into a car. I pinned him down until the cops came 20 minutes later. I can't stand by and watch that kind of stuff happen."
Reacher showrunner Nick Santora believes Alan was born to play this role. "I don't disagree with you," he says when we bring it up, adding, "Alan Ritchson nailed it. He had to beat out some very fantastic, talented actors who read incredibly well for the part. But Alan is everything Reacher is supposed to be. Some actors might have to bulk up to play Reacher. Alan probably has to bulk down."
Like in the films, author Lee Child makes a cameo here as well, appearing in a brief role in the final episode. Alan reveals it was him who convinced the producers to get Lee to shoot the scene. "Lee is the first person I ever felt star struck by. That's saying something because I have worked with a lot of great people. I was very nervous meeting him and I asked Dawn Granger (producer), who has been a partner with Lee on this if he'd be game to cameo in a scene. He was like, 'I'll ask him,' and Lee loved it. I was like a kid in a candy store all that day," says Alan.
Lee, however, says that he was actually caught unprepared when asked to shoot the cameo. "It was good fun," he says, adding, "I thought I missed the chance because of the pandemic. Canada (where the series was shot) eventually relaxed the restrictions and I was able to be there. I landed expecting to say hi to everybody but they pushed me around to do this. I thought that will end up on the cutting room floor but they kept it in. It's sort of a nod that the book author is inspecting Reacher and somehow approving of him. I don't expect an Oscar nomination for it but it was great fun to do it."
Reacher began streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, February 4. The eight-episode series has been created by Nick Santora and also features Malcolm Goodwin and Willa Fitzgerald, apart from Alan.