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Why Tom Cruise Was Cast As Jack Reacher (Despite His Size)

Here’s why Tom Cruise was cast as Jack Reacher in the 2012 movie, despite bearing little physical resemblance to the character from the books. The first Jack Reacher novel from author Lee Childs was published in 1997, with The Killing Floor kicking off a series that is still running. The books follow former military policeman Reacher, a hulking nomad who wanders America and helps right wrongs.

The Jack Reacher books kind of read like Murder, She Wrote if the show was fronted by Dolph Lundgren instead of Angela Lansbury. Reacher is a mix of both brains and brawn and isn’t afraid to wield either. The popularity of the novels made it inevitable a movie or TV show would adapt the character someday, but Jack Reacher is described as 6-feet-5-inches and weighing over 250 pounds. That made the casting pool somewhat narrow.

While Dwayne Johnson went after the role for 2012’s Jack Reacher – based on the novel One Shot – he was rejected as his movie stardom was in a different place at the time. Tom Cruise might be one of the biggest stars on the planet, but both his height (5-feet-7) and his not exactly muscular physique left many fans of the series perplexed. The Tom Cruise Reacher casting announcement was met with some outright hostility online, and continued to be a source of mild controversy during the release of the movie and its 2016 sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. However, Cruise’s casting was the result of a very long process.

Cruise Fit All The Qualities Of Reacher – Bar One
Tom Cruise Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Speaking with The Washington Post in 2012, author Lee Child explained many different names were thrown around for the role. These included Daniel Craig, Russell Crowe, Will Smith and Jason Statham, but none resembled the character as written. The search to find an actor who fit this bill kept stalling the project, and it was only after it was decided to find a performer who matches the qualities of the character – including intelligence and the ability to be intimidating – that Jack Reacher came together.

This eventually led to Cruise being cast, and Lee Child – who cameoed on Amazon’s series – vigorously defended the actor’s casting at the time. He claimed those who didn’t read the books wouldn’t be bothered, but “If you do know Reacher, for the first two or three minutes you’re going to think, ‘This is weird.’ But after the first two or three minutes, you buy into it, it sucks you in, and he convinces you.” Actor Alan Ritchson later inherited the part for Amazon’s Reacher, which adapted The Killing Floor. Ritchson was a much better fit for the part, and Child later conceded that the readers were correct and Reacher’s size was an important part of the character. Regardless, Cruise’s brought a genuine intensity and charisma to the movies and brought out Reacher’s unstoppable nature in other forms.

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