Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher series, has spoken about criticism from book fans about the casting of Tom Cruise in the 2012 film and its sequel.
The character has just returned in the Amazon Prime Video series Reacher, this time played by Alan Ritchson.
Some book fans were critical of Cruise as Reacher, particularly as the character is described at 6’5″ in the source material, while the actor is believed to be much shorter than that. However, many non-book fans liked Cruise in the role, so the new series had to “satisfy” both camps, according to Child.
“There was criticism from the book fans because they had built up a very clear image of what Reacher should look like,” he told Metro.co.uk.
Child added of casting Ritchson: “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.’
“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.
“I think that the size thing is important to certain parts of the narrative,” the author continued. “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.”
Ritchson himself praised Cruise, admitting he would be “elated” if his predecessor gave him a stamp of approval.
“If I was ever so lucky to get a stamp of approval from him I could die happy,” he said. “I’d probably quit while I was ahead. I think one season’s enough if I heard that from him. He’s a legend, I should be so lucky. I care deeply about what he and the rest of the people that have been a part of this for a long time think. I want to get this right.”
Reacher is based on the 1997 debut Jack Reacher novel Killing Floor, and has been written and directed by Scorpion‘s Nick Santora.