Even though the new Amazon adaptation, “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” uses the author’s name in the title, it’s more of a symbolic gesture than denoting strict adherence to the past. After all, the eight-episode series isn’t based on any of Clancy’s books. But it is inspired by the franchise’s impressive past.
“It’s an original story, so it’s not an adaptation of any of the novels,” director and executive producer Daniel Sackheim told IndieWire. “But I think it’s inspired in the same way as the Harrison Ford movies.”
Speaking after the Director’s Guild of America panel at Saturday’s Television Critics Association press tour, Sackheim confirmed that the series, starring John Krasinski as the titular hero, will premiere in 2018 on Amazon.
[Update: A previous version of this story stated “Jack Ryan” would be released in March 2018. Amazon has since revised its timeline, and “Jack Ryan’s” 2018 release date is still to-be-determined.]
He also said they’re working on a “different kind of Jack Ryan,” but one who adheres to many of the same characteristics brought to life by Ford in “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger.”
“What was so great about the Harrison Ford movies was that they were about an everyman hero,” Sackheim said. “He was a guy who wasn’t a superhero. He was heroic, but he was vulnerable. He wasn’t afraid to be scared. He was a regular man and a hero.”
This description ties directly to the character Clancy first created in “The Hunt For Red October”; a man who worked as a civilian long before he accepted a job at the CIA.
“We very much lean into the notion of a guy who starts out as an analyst,” Sackheim said. “In the first episode, when we meet Jack Ryan, he’s an analyst. He kind of discovers something and gets roped into participating in the field. Little by little by little, he becomes an operative. So the first season is really following the arc of a guy learning to be a CIA agent, or what the CIA calls an operative vs. an analyst.”
Sackheim also thinks the television medium gave them an ideal opportunity to create memorable, layered villains.
“I think all those Jack Ryan movies were fantastic,” Sackheim said. “But I don’t think some of them gave you the opportunity to examine the antagonist with any real depth. He just served to be the villain. Now with eight hours, you get the chance to plum a little deeper.”
Sackheim directs three of the eight episodes. Other directors include Carlton Cuse, who also serves as showrunner, Patricia Riggen, and Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”), who directed the pilot.
The following is the official synopsis provided by Amazon:
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” follows an up-and-coming CIA analyst thrust into a dangerous field assignment for the first time. The series follows Ryan (Krasinski) as he uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication that launches him into the center of a dangerous gambit with a new breed of terrorism that threatens destruction on a global scale.
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” will premiere in 2018 on Amazon.