Author Lee Child Talks Tom Cruise In New JACK REACHER Featurette
Global bestselling author Lee Child did not set out to be a bestselling author. After attending law school in his native Great Britain, Child signed on with the U.K.’s Granada Television, and spent the next 18 years working as a presentation director on some of the most respected shows and series during what some critics term “the golden age” of British television. But a corporate restructuring left Child without a job in 1995, and so he sat down to write a book, eventually titled Killing Floor. Published in 1997, his debut novel featured a central character named Jack Reacher, who immediately captivated readers. 17 Reacher novels later, Child’s (and the readers’) affinity for the character has not lessened.
“Jack Reacher” is based on One-Shot, the ninth in the series of Reacher novels, so why begin in the middle, as it were? Producer Don Granger says, “One Shot is perhaps the most cinematic of all of the books. Within the novel are presented several elements that we thought were important in a first movie. First, I think it’s got one of the very best introductions for Reacher—it’s a great way to bring him into the plot that’s already in motion. But secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, there’s a moral dilemma for him. He comes into the story believing one thing, and then has to realize that the facts are perhaps pointing in a different direction. He then has to decide whether to take the easy way out of this, or the tougher way, and in that decision, we get to realize why Jack Reacher’s different from any other movie hero.”
Granger remembers, “I spoke to Lee right after he first read the screenplay. And he said that now there were two people in the world who could write Jack Reacher: him and director/writer Christopher McQuarrie.” The movie, of course, is anchored by the title character, played by Tom Cruise.
“We really wanted to focus on an actor who could bring the gravitas the skill and the talent to make this a memorable role. And more importantly, someone who could bring out Reacher’s personality, which is very specific. When we told Lee who we were thinking about casting as Reacher and how we’d come to that conclusion, he was great about it. He said, ‘Why wouldn’t I want the biggest movie star who ever lived to play the character I created?’” McQuarrie says.
For Cruise, Child’s stamp of approval was key. “Firstly, I’m very sensitive to it. This is Lee’s book and Lee’s character. His blessing was crucial to me. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have done it,” says Cruise.
Cruise was thrilled, of course, to play Reacher, an incredibly rich, compelling and unique force of nature with such an archetypal code of honor.
“Reacher is such a great character. He doesn’t have a cell phone, he doesn’t have email. He’s an analog guy in a digital age. He’s off the grid. He pays for things in cash. People look at things through the prism of the colors of their life, but Jack Reacher does things the way we want to sometimes. In that sense, he’s sort of a Dirty Harry, a James Bond, a Josey Wales,” Cruise says.
While Cruise does not resemble Reacher as described in the books, Child says that Cruise captured Reacher’s ethos and that was more important than any physical likeness.
“Cruise, at his core, is a character actor in the most literal sense. He really gets into a role. He understood Jack Reacher. He projected his vibe. But the only real answer to that is, go see the movie. I guarantee you will come out of it, thinking, ‘What was I worried about?’” Child sums up.
Moreover, McQuarrie notes, the physical attributes described in the book are nearly impossible to find in any performer. Recalls McQuarrie: “We were never going to find an actor who fit the rather extreme physical characteristics as are described in the books, so we decided first thing that could not be our primary concern.”
More important, McQuarrie says, were the unique characteristics that make Reacher so captivating that he knew would resonate with Cruise on a personal level. Reacher is a man comfortable in his own skin, a quality that intrigued McQuarrie and especially appealed to him in terms of how Cruise might inhabit that.
“What I really like about Reacher is he’s a completely confident and centered individual, and a very comfortable loner. More than anything, he’s self-assured and very in tune with his environment,” MrQuarrie explains. “Most of the characters Tom is accustomed to playing in movies – he’s usually a man under intense pressure, and driven by the pursuit of the object of the plot. Reacher is somebody who never experiences pressure, who lets the entire story come to him. When you spend any time with Tom you realize that, as a person, he’s a lot more like Reacher.”
Which is not to say that Cruise is a vigilante or loner – rather, Cruise shares Reacher’s personable side. Even in the most stressful situations, Reacher displays a dry wit combined with a genuine concern. Reacher is not bombastic – he is thoughtful, deliberate and also, when he’s not under attack from bad guys, good company.
“What was really exciting to me,” McQuarrie continues, “was to be able to put Tom in a role where he’s playing somebody closer to himself, someone who’s a lot cooler, a lot more relaxed, a lot more amiable. What we were going for with Reacher is not really an intensity, but more a matter-of-factness. He seems to understand how everything is going to happen around him, and is just waiting for it to occur. Even down to his first big fight with the townies—he basically tells the guys, ‘This is the way the fight’s going to go,’ and that’s how it goes. He gives them every opportunity to walk away, and they don’t do it.”
On a mundane morning in an average town, five people are randomly shot dead while going about their everyday lives. All of the evidence points to one man: A sharp-shooting assassin who also is ex-military, a trained sniper. He is swiftly apprehended and dragged into custody.
Despite a marathon interrogation, the prisoner offers up nothing except a cryptic demand he scribbles on a notepad in lieu of a confession: GET JACK REACHER.
Who is this Reacher? Not an easy question to answer – in fact, it’s hard to prove that he even exists. Little matter – Jack Reacher (TOM CRUISE) is already on his way. Ex-Army, erstwhile military investigator, the enigmatic Reacher prefers to avoid the company of others – but he knows this shooter. A news report about the killings compels him to come out of the shadows and share with the authorities what he knows about this prisoner, which is plenty. Based on lurid past history, Reacher believes they’ve got the right man.
By the time Reacher arrives, the accused killer lies in a coma, thanks to a brutal beating during transfer, and his defense attorney (ROSAMUND PIKE) is loaded with questions for Reacher: What is her client’s history with Reacher, and why would he request help from a man who’s convinced of his guilt? Despite some trepidation, she honors her client’s request and hires Reacher to investigate. At first it seems the police have effectively and thoroughly examined the crime scene and, through their perfect detective work, captured the killer. But Reacher has a problem with perfection. Quick with a quip, easily self-sufficient and hyper-observant, he is attuned to tiny but specific false notes that escape others. The more he delves into the case, the less clear cut it proves to be.
So begins an extraordinary pursuit for the truth, where nothing is what it seems and friend and family may actually be foe. Tough and smart, with a disarming wit, no detail is too small for Reacher. Although he may be a loner who plays by his own rules, ultimately he is driven by a keen sense of justice. Reacher finds himself pitted against an unexpected and astute enemy, one with an enormous predilection for violence and a secret to keep, maybe one worth killing for. Reacher will have to use every ounce of cunning and strategy to anticipate and outwit his new adversary in order to protect the innocent and expose the truly guilty.
From The New York Times bestselling series author Lee Child comes one of the most compelling heroes to step from novel to screen – ex-military investigator “Jack Reacher.” Written and directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie, JACK REACHER stars Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and Werner Herzog.
It is produced by Tom Cruise, Don Granger, Paula Wagner and Gary Levinsohn. Executive producers are Jake Myers, Ken Kamins, Kevin Messick, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake. Music is by Joe Kraemer. Costume designer is Susan Matheson. Kevin Stitt, A.C.E. is the editor. James Bissell is the production designer. Caleb Deschanel, A.S.C is the cinematographer. JACK REACHER is based on the book One Shot by Lee Child.