Amazon’s Reacher replaced Tom Cruise with Alan Ritchson as the titular avenger, but why didn’t the Mission: Impossible icon reprise the role?
Tom Cruise didn’t continue as the titular avenger in Amazon’s Reacher series, but did he leave or was he fired? Jack Reacher first appeared in author Lee Child’s thriller Killing Floor, where the nomadic former military policeman wanders America and often ends up righting wrongs. Best described as Sherlock Holmes with the body of Dolph Lundgren, Reacher was a natural for a movie adaptation. That finally came to pass with 2012’s Jack Reacher, a taut action-thriller starring Cruise. The star was cast after struggles securing a leading man who fit Reacher’s hulking proportions and while his two movies were successful, fans never fully accepted him in the role.
Ritchson took over the part for Amazon’s Reacher, where he received great reviews. Of course, it’s unlikely Amazon would have objected if Cruise wished to continue, but according to a Smashing Interviews chat with Child, this wasn’t an option. The author puts the Jack Reacher recasting down purely to the move from film to TV, with the actor viewing himself as a “movie star” only. Says the author, “So it wasn’t a question of firing him or getting rid of him, it was that the project moved on to television, and he would not go with it. He could not go with it because he’s 100% committed to the cinema.“
Related: Jack Reacher Season 3 Can Prove The First Movie’s Biggest Mistake
Amazon’s Reacher Allowed For The Perfect Recasting
When it was decided to drop Reacher’s muscles from the book, the filmmakers instead sought to cast an A-lister actor who could embody the character’s traits. This included his determination, intelligence and ferocity when angered. Cruise did a great job with those elements, but as Child himself later conceded, part of Reacher’s appeal is his size. Longtime readers of the Jack Reacher novels just couldn’t accept Cruise, making for a distracting experience. With the star organically stepping aside with Reacher’s television move, this allowed the showrunners to bring the book’s version of Reacher to life.
With Ritchson, they couldn’t have chosen much better. Physically, he may have well walked right out of a Lee Child Jack Reacher paperback. More than that, Ritchson was given much more dialogue to handle than the novel’s character did, who is so stoic that “Reacher said nothing” has become a meme among readers. Bringing the role to life would challenge any performer since, on one hand, he’s like the ultimate action hero, but on the other, he’s an oddball who can be surprisingly sweet and romantic. Ritcher juggled all those conflicting traits perfectly.
Cruise Helped The Reacher Fanbase Grow
Popular as Child’s novel series was, it’s undeniable the two Cruise Jack Reacher films helped the reader base grow. Regardless of his suitability, casting one of the most popular movie stars on the planet naturally brought a whole new audience to the property, who later sought out the books. The controversy over his casting might linger, but the Cruise chapter of Reacher’s live-action adaptations shouldn’t be discounted. The star isn’t hurting for work since exiting the saga either, but given how solid the first film was, it’s a slight shame he and director Christopher McQuarrie didn’t reunite for Jack Reacher 3 – preferably an R-rated version at that.
Next: How Reacher Season 2’s Cast Compare To Bad Luck & Trouble’s Characters
Update on Youtube Lee Child on why Tom Cruise will no longer play Jack Reacher
Reader’s Digest Senior Editor Kathy Buchanan speaks with best-selling author Lee Child about the decision not to cast Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the forthcoming movies.