How will the new ‘Reacher’ series differ from the movies? Just look at the hulking hero
The Prime Video series based on Lee Child’s bestselling books will allow viewers to appreciate more about Jack Reacher, actor Hugh Thompson says
The popular character Jack Reacher has been featured in 26 novels and two action movies. Now he’s coming to television in a new streaming series.
Why it matters: All eight episodes of the first season of “Reacher” will premiere on Prime Video worldwide on Friday, Feb. 4. The new series stars Alan Ritchson and is based on the bestselling novels by Lee Child.
Details: “Reacher” follows Jack Reacher, a muscular, 6-foot-5 veteran military police investigator who essentially lives the life of a drifter, traveling with only the clothes he’s wearing and a toothbrush.
In Season 1 of the new series, Reacher has arrived in the fictional small town of Margrave, Georgia, where he unexpectedly becomes the main suspect in the community’s first homicide in 20 years. The new season is based on Child’s first “Jack Reacher” novel, “Killing Floor,” published in 1997. Child served as an executive producer for the show.
The cast includes Ritchson, Willa Fitzgerald, Malcolm Goodwin, Chris Webster, Bruce McGill, Hugh Thompson and others.
Child’s “Jack Reacher” novel series has sold more than 100 million book copies, according to Variety.
Tom Cruise previously played the character of “Jack Reacher” in the 2012 film, “Jack Reacher” and the 2016 movie, “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.”
One actor’s thoughts: Thompson, who plays the character of Baker in the new series, told the Deseret News he read his first Jack Reacher novel, “Blue Moon,” in one day while auditioning for the part. He was hooked.
“You understand why this franchise has the support and rabid fan base that it does because it’s just such a page-turner,” Thompson said. “There is also a lot of stuff about morality and code of conduct. He’s man of action and a hero you can get behind because he does stuff according to what he thinks and doesn’t look back. ... It’s addictive.”
How does the new series differ from the previous Reacher movies?
“They are different animals,” Thompson said. “In a series you have so much time. You don’t have to crash everything together into two hours like when you are doing a feature. You can do more set up. You can do a little more exploration of what Reacher is like in the books. You see how intelligent the guy is.”
Many liked Cruise’s portrayal of Reacher in the movies but his physical presence didn’t match the description of the hulking hero in the books. Ritchson, a 6-foot-3 actor with bulging biceps, should satisfy fans.
“He’s like an aircraft carrier with arms and legs, that guy,” Thompson said. “But also what struck me was his sense of timing, his sense of humor. He’s actually smart in the way that Reacher is smart. He totally understands what he is doing and what that character is about. I think he nailed it.”
One highlight for Thompson was getting to work with McGill, who he used to watch as Jack Dalton in “MacGyver,” a television series from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“It was a pleasure to meet him,” said Thompson before speaking highly of other cast members. “It’s nice to be around that kind of energy and talent.”
Other perspectives: Child and showrunner/executive producer Nick Santora discussed the show and how they selected Ritchson to play Jack Reacher in a piece by The New York Times.
Once Child saw Ritchson in a screen test, it didn’t take long to make a decision, he said in an interview with the Toronto Sun.
“What I wanted to see in the screen testing came down to two seconds,” Child said in the interview. “It was all about the very first impression. That’s what thrilled me about Alan. Immediately, he nailed it.”
Ritchson said he “loved” playing Reacher, despite the physical toll, he said in an interview with Variety.
“I had to eat a lot of pizza to bulk up for this role. … I started working out a little more and stepping into that famous Reacher silhouette. And then the fight training was another level,” Ritchson said. “Reacher’s a heavy yoke to wear, he left me a little wounded. I broke a joint, my AC joint in the shoulder. I had surgery when we wrapped. … (And) I tore an oblique in a fight on set. It was rough, but I got through it and I feel better than ever now. Hopefully, we can do many more. I’ll put those scars behind me.”