How Alan Ritchson’s Military Brat Experience Played Into His Jack Reacher Performance [Exclusive]

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Jack Reacher fans really want to see a giant brute beating up scores of bad guys — just as long Tom Cruise isn’t playing him. But in Amazon’s insanely popular streaming series, “Reacher,” showrunner Nick Santora and author of the Jack Reacher novels, Lee Child, found they suddenly had a lot more room to explore the titular former military officer’s character.

Once the two Cruise-led Jack Reacher movies were out of the way, Child himself confessed that it was best to listen to fan feedback and start from scratch. And so, Jack Reacher was given the prestige TV treatment in a joint production by Paramount, Skydance, and Amazon’s Prime Video that immediately proved popular enough on its 2022 debut to be renewed for a second season.

“Reacher” season 2 will be arriving on the streamer in the very near future, and while fans can expect to see much more of the butt-kicking they so crave, with a whole season to fill you can bet there’ll be even more insight into Alan Ritchson’s “Reacher” and his character this time around. Especially since season 2 is set to adapt “Hard Luck And Trouble,” the 11th book in Child’s series which focuses on Reacher seeking revenge after members of his former military unit start turning up dead. 

That should also provide the perfect excuse to flesh out Reacher’s back story more so than in season 1. As readers of the books know, Reacher’s military background very much defines who he is as a character, and his leaving the military is what leads to his nomadic existence traveling from city to city. This is an interesting experience for Ritchson, who infused his performance with some of his own experiences growing up as the son of a military man.

‘I Get What That Life Does To You’

Alan Ritchson, who read all 24 Jack Reacher books after being cast, is an unabashed fan of the character. He’s said that he’d like to see every Jack Reacher novel, of which there are now 29, adapted as part of the “Reacher” series. And considering how much his portrayal has resonated with fans, it might not be all that unreasonable a goal.

Part of what makes Ritchson so suited for the role, being bigger than Tom Cruise aside, is his experience growing up the son of a US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. As the official website describes Jack Reacher, “He’ll arrive in town, come across someone who needs his help, solve a mystery and take out the bad guys, and then get on the next bus out of town.” And while Ritchson didn’t have much experience taking out bad guys as a youth, he does identify with the nomadic element of Reacher’s life.

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Ritchson and his family moved frequently, first to Rantoul, Illinois then to Niceville, Florida. And as he revealed in a /Film interview, those experiences directly played into his “Reacher” performance:

I don’t have any questions about what life is like on military bases or when you move around a lot. Watching the flashbacks where we get to explore Reacher’s childhood on a base in Okinawa, it hit close to home because I used to be the new kid. I’d move around a lot, a new base every couple of years. I get what that life does to you. It has its pros and cons, but one thing I really took away and wanted to infuse into Reacher was the confidence and formality and discipline that military life instills in its service members.”

Staying True To The Books

Aside from having direct experience with moving around, Alan Ritchson credits his dad with instilling a military sense of discipline in him. As he explained:

“My dad, he carried himself in a way that you don’t see anywhere else but in the military. His posture, the way that he’d shake somebody’s hand and look you in the eye, it’s something I easily carry into the ‘Reacher’ world.”

Interestingly, Ritchson also recognized that Jack Reacher as a character is formidable enough that he could also do very little and let the Army vet speak through him. He added:

“This was a character that I just needed to get out of the way of. There’s so much source material here […] I try not to look to anybody else, to the “Reacher” franchise in the past or any other actors or characters. It was just about absorbing that material.”

That approach certainly seems to have worked for Ritchson, who fit perfectly into showrunner Nick Santora’s vision of a show that adhered as closely to the books as possible, making “Reacher” season 1 very familiar to fans of the novels. That said, Ritchson did change elements of Jack Reacher for TV, especially since the taciturn character was required to speak more on-camera than he needed to in the novels.

But even with his subtle changes, he seems to have maintained a real respect for playing a military man. As he revealed in a 2022 interview, “To play a vet, it’s touching […] I have a deep respect and reverence for all the sacrifices that service members make, […] I care deeply about what they do for us. To be able to portray one is just an honor.”

Read this next: The Best TV Shows Of 2022, Ranked

The post How Alan Ritchson’s Military Brat Experience Played Into His Jack Reacher Performance [Exclusive] appeared first on /Film.

/Film – How Alan Ritchson’s Military Brat Experience Played Into His Jack Reacher Performance [Exclusive]
Author: Joe Roberts
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March 11, 2023

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