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‘Jack Reacher’ Author on Tom Cruise Casting: ‘I Think That the Size Thing is Important’

Lee Childs is happy that the new "Jack Reacher" series cast a taller actor to satisfy fans of his books.

"Jack Reacher"

“Jack Reacher”

Paramount Pictures

For many fans of Lee Childs’ “Jack Reacher” books the new Amazon series is a second chance to get the casting right. The series was previously adapted into two films starring Tom Cruise as the titular character, 2012’s “Jack Reacher” and its 2016 sequel “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.” While those movies were moderately successful, critics felt like Cruise’s casting ignored one of the most important aspects of the books.

Jack Reacher is known for being a physically imposing character, described in one book as “extremely tall, extremely broad, long-armed and long-legged” with “hands the size of dinner plates.” No matter how well Tom Cruise played the role, the 5’8″ actor was never going to be the right fit in the eyes of some fans.

The new Amazon series, “Reacher,” seeks to remedy that by casting the much larger Alan Ritchson in the role. Speaking with Metro.co.uk, Lee Childs, who also serves as an executive producer on the show, addressed fans’ issues with Cruise.

“There was criticism from the book fans because they had built up a very clear image of what Reacher should look like,” Childs said. While fans of the books who approached the movie with a preexisting mental image of Reacher may have objected to Cruise, he said that new fans really enjoyed Cruise’s performance. So when it came time to cast the show he wanted to balance the interests of both groups. 

“It just became a different proposition and I guess the opportunity of thinking ‘alright, we can get a much bigger guy so the book fans are going to be happy,'” he said. “But we’re also focusing on the non-book readers. What do they need? They need just great entertainment, they don’t have the reference already and so we also had to satisfy them.”

While Childs said he is a fan of both actors and praised Cruise for dedicating himself to the role, he now understands why some fans took issue with him. “I think that the size thing is important to certain parts of the narrative,” he said. “Reacher has got to scare people, and you can do that so much easier with one glance of this huge animal rather than a normal-sized actor.”

Season 1 of “Reacher” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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