Casting Aspersions: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher???? Yikes.

By James Hayman

Before I started writing novels, I wrote, produced and cast about a zillion TV commercials for clients like Ford, the US Army, Merrill Lynch and a bunch of other less glamorous clients including Tide detergent.  I always believed a lot of the success of an ad campaign depended on casting the right actor in the right role.  I’ve always believed the same thing about a movie or, for that matter, a TV series.

So when I read this morning that someone had decided to cast Tom Cruise in the Jack Reacher role in the movie version of Lee Child’s One Shot, I had a hard time believing it.

Reacher is everything Cruise isn’t. And vice versa.  In fact, I find it difficult to think of a an actor who would be a worse choice to play Jack Reacher than Tom Cruise with the only possible exception being Danny DeVito. And DeVito, at least, would be more fun to watch in the role.

I have to admit I like the Reacher books. I’ve read most, if not all of the fifteen or sixteen thrillers in the series, and while some are better than others, I almost always enjoy them. Over the years I think I’ve gotten to know the hero pretty well.

Here are some of the things all Lee Child fans know about Jack Reacher.

He’s tall.  Six-foot-five (Cruise is five-foot-seven).

He’s tough.  He can usually beat the crap out of half a dozen oversized baddies with one hand tied behind is back.

He’s taciturn. He doesn’t blather on for the sake of hearing himself talk. Nor does he constantly grin at the reader (or the camera).

Unlike Cruise, Reacher doesn’t give a damn about looking cool, chic or fashionable. He generally buys the cheapest possible clothes at someplace like Wal-Mart or Goodwill and then throws them away when they get dirty instead of washing them. (Obviously, casting Reacher as a spokesperson in a Tide commercial would be nearly as bad a choice as casting Cruise as Reacher).

On top of that Reacher can be a seriously nice guy who really wants to help those in trouble (a trait that usually gets him into even worse trouble , the getting out of which constitutes the main plot line of most of the books).

Tom Cruise is none of these things.

You may or may not like Tom Cruise as an actor. I have to admit he’s not one of my favorites.  In fact, the last Tom Cruise character I actually liked was Maverick in Tony Scott’s Top Gun and that movie was made twenty-five years ago back in 1986.

So far, nobody’s offered to make a movie of either of my books, so you may legitimately ask, who am I to judge? If they asked Tom Cruise to play the role of my hero, Mike McCabe, I’d probably just smile nicely and say, “Gee. What a great idea.”

Maybe I’m nuts. Maybe Tom Cruise will make a fabulous Jack Reacher.  But somehow I don’t think so. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments and perhaps suggestions on who should be playing the part.

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14 Responses to Casting Aspersions: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher???? Yikes.

  1. Pj Schott says:

    Not a fan of Tom Cruise either. Casting him as Jack Reacher seems odd. But I don’t try to apply logic when it comes to corporate decision-making.

  2. For Jack Reacher: Viggo Mortensen would be terrific.

    BTW, “Casting Aspersions” — great title!

  3. Kathy MacAlister says:

    Tom Cruise as Reacher–no way!

  4. Judi Maxwell says:

    I am appalled. I too liked Tom Cruise in Top Gun although I still think Risky Business (his first) was his best work. I can honestly say that his name on the marquee is enough to keep me away.

  5. Brenda Buchanan says:

    Hi Jim,

    I’m with you on this. Tom Cruise is the wrong man for the part. My suggestions of actors to play Reacher? John Cusack. David Duchovney. Liam Neeson. Maybe David Morse (not generally a leading man, but good at playing the silent, strong type.)


  6. I can’t see this, either. Jack Reacher has powerful physical presence. He’s the man I’d most want by my side in any tough, dicey situation. John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers and Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger are next. The character Tom has played would be on the list somewhere around 4,000.

  7. I adore the Reacher books. Lee Child can’t write them fast enough for me. If you’re looking for a slice of justice in this crazy world, I recommend starting with KILLING FLOOR and being grateful that you still have 14 ahead of you (come September). BTW, I read mostly literary suspense and for me to like these books so much says something, I’m not sure what. But they are *great* reads.

    Cruise is no Reacher for all the reasons that you say. But here’s the thing–most of the people who see One Shot won’t have read the books. Maybe they will after seeing the movie if it’s done well. And what will bring people to the movies? A box office draw.

    I’m not sure if Tom Cruise still fits this bill. Do people like him as much since he jumped on Oprah’s couch? Since his religious predilections became the stuff of tabloid fare? I’m not sure. But he does still have power in Hollywood, and in the end having his name attached to the film may simply have upped the likelihood of a green light.

  8. Paul Doiron says:

    My wife would have been first in line at the multiplex if they had cast a clean-shaven Joe Manganiello (6’5″) from True Blood.

  9. Do actually think that is true?

  10. Jowens says:

    Jack Reacher is fantastically unique character, with a built-in legion of adoring fans all set to spend their hard earned dollars to see their hero brought to life on the big screen. Reminds me of many years ago when another of fiction’s icons arrived in theaters with a virtual unknown actor in the leading role. Sean Connery was perfect as James Bond, which proves you don’t need a “super star” to make a successful action film. You need to fulfill the viewer’s expectations.
    Jack Reacher is tall, blond and resembles “a prophylactic stuffed with walnuts”. How in blazes does Cruise fill this character’s description? What a sellout!
    WWC’s Edge with a haircut is my choice. He’s big, blond, and he’s an emerging actor.
    If the Cruise movie is made I’ll go see it, but my expectations are low.

  11. Hagmert says:

    Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is laughable. I can picture it now. Reacher is a street fighter who can take on a half dozen attackers with little trouble. They are going to make Cruise a Kung-Fu kicking, Karate-chopping clown! It’s the only way directors feel the audience will accept that this “little guy” can beat the odds.
    I personally don’t think it necessary to start with the first book in the series as the introductory film. They didn’t do so with James Bond. Just give me a believable actor and a good script.

  12. Tom says:

    Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is a joke!!!!

    If you picture Reacher then you think of someone like Vin Diesel or Jason Stratham

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