A scene. It only takes one scene, the first, for American actor Alan Ritchson to establish himself as Jack Reacher. A former military police investigator, he has just returned to civilian life and landed in the small town of Margrave, Georgia. In front of a dinner, Jack Reacher attends a dispute between a couple, the man is aggressive, turns to him: “Is there a problem? Our hero then remains there, imposing, impassive. And the man apologizes. In a few seconds and without any dialogue, Alan Ritchson becomes Jack Reacher, head – and muscles – of the poster of the almost eponymous series, adapted from the novels by Lee Child and available since Friday on Prime Video.
Jack Reacher is not afraid of anything, especially not Tom Cruise
“It’s rare to make introductions with the hero without a single line of dialogue, comments Alan Ritchson, hitherto known for his roles as superheroes in Smallville and Titans. There are almost ten script pages like that. So we have a good sense of who Jack Reacher is. He can impose himself without a single word. The scene shows that he is not afraid of anything, that he does not fear for his life. It wasn’t necessarily easy to play, you had to feel that a lot of things were going on in his head, that he was always one step ahead. »
Alan Ritchson, 1.88 meters, is not the first interpreter of Jack Reacher on the screen, since Tom Cruise played the time of two films at the cinema. Yes, Tom Cruise and his 1.70 meter. At the time, fans of the novels had winced, and Lee Child had justified that the size of his character was a metaphor for his unstoppable strength and that Tom Cruise had quite the shoulders to embody it. He seems to have changed his mind since, and campaigned for fewer films, less Tom Cruise, and rather a series, a recast. Which takes nothing away from Christopher McQuarrie’s first film, and its refined staging that he used for his Impossible missionstill with Tom Cruise.
“The first day of filming, I knew who he was”
Alan Ritchson didn’t see the movies, he didn’t want to. “On the other hand, I read all the novels, several times, as soon as I knew that I might have my chance for the role, he explains. However, its size is a requirement, you cannot miss it. Jack Reacher is a force of nature, even if he is not only that. He is also smart. Fans of the novels were entitled to have their Reacher. »
The first season adapts From the bottom of the abyss, the first literary adventure of the former soldier, here arrested for a murder he did not commit. But Alan Ritchson drew from the twenty or so published novels: “It’s a dream to have so much material available. Whenever I had a question about the character, I found the answer in the books. The first day of filming, I knew who he was, this balance of stoic violence, intelligence and sense of humor”.
A Frenchman at the helm
The tone of the series is also set from the pilot by its violence, its brutality, its realization signed by the Frenchman Thomas Vincent, already at work on the British series Bodyguard. “He was the perfect director to start the series, with an artistic author approach, a mastery of action and always this focus on the characters”, recalls Alan Ritchson. Jack Reacher is indeed not alone on screen, and the series also works through the dynamic he creates with two local police officers, played by Willa Fitzgerald (Screamthe series) and Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie). Their three-way chemistry is immediate, even if it’s only for a season. This is the concept, Jack Reacher will then leave for other adventures and characters.
Alan Ritchson also confirms having signed for several seasons of Reacher. 26, like the number of novels? “I hope so,” he jokes. I would do as much as it takes. I think I have found the character of my career, for which the spectators will know and recognize me. And I’m very happy with it. »