Child’s Play: Cruise exits but Jack Reacher’s for tv..?

Tom Cruise won't be returning to the role of Jack Reacher, but Lee Child's novel hero may be heading to television...

While Tom Cruise is an A-List actor with a strong reputation for a great work ethic and a list of memorable performances, there have been several occasions in his long career where his participation has flown in the face of the source material. Author Anne Rice famously decried – initially – the casting of Cruise as LeStat in the 1994 cinematic adaptation of her Interview with the Vampire, saying the actor was nothing like her vision of the regal undead provocateur (before later being won over and taking out a page ad in industry titles to apologise). When Cruise took the role of Jack Reacher in 2004’s adaptation of Lee Child’s  series of books, even the kindest critics noted that Cruise could hardly of been the first choice for the weathered,  renegade investigator who was said to be over six foot tall and built more like an American Football player. It was to Cruise’s credit that his charisma and commitment to the role made the film (and a subsequent 2016 sequel subtitled ‘Never Go Back‘) work as well as they did – but it was still powerplay momentum rather than logical casting that saw him there at all. Even Child diplomatically admitted that, while praising Cruise as an actor,  the ‘physicality’ was wrong.

It appears that Cruise will not be returning to play the character for a third film, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing more of the character on the screen – though it looks likely the destination will be the television variety.  Skydance – who were involved with Cruise and partner Paula Wagner in producing the features – are likely to be involved in the proposed series, though it is still early days and there is no word on who might take over the title role or what parts of Child’s twenty-three novels may be used to fill out the episodic structure.   However it will be a clean slate. Child told BBC Radio Manchester in an interview that:  “… ultimately the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom Cruise. Instead we’re going to take it to Netflix or something like that. Long-form streaming television, with a completely new actor.

It may take a while, but given the success of shows such as Jack Ryan (for Amazon) also based on concepts that started as novels and moved to cinema before coming to television, look for the project to gain momentum.