Lee Child on His New Thriller, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher and Wandering Heroes

"They’re all page-turners, but this one really goes hell to leather."

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Child: Sigrid Estrada

If Lee Child’s devoted fans want a true-life thriller, they should check out the author’s numbers. Child, whose iconic character Jack Reacher is now an internationally celebrated hero, has more than 60 million copies of his novels in print in 96 countries and nearly 60 languages. His 17th Reacher book, A Wanted Man, just hit shelves. And in December, Hollywood hopes to ride the Reacher rocket with a Christmas film based on Child’s book One Shot, and starring Tom Cruise. TIME caught up with the prolific author by phone at his home in New York City:

TIME: Your 17th book! How do you keep it fresh?

LEE CHILD: I made one very smart choice in the beginning, which was to give Reacher no job and no location. Unlike any other series, he’s not a cop in LA; he’s not a private eye in Boston. He can be anywhere and do anything. So to me, each book is entirely fresh and new. I’m really excited about each one.

What’s different about A Wanted Man?

This one is faster—it literally starts at 80 m.p.h. and it gets quicker and quicker all the way through. It’s a very compressed time period, and it really is accelerated. They’re all page-turners, but this one really goes hell to leather.

Tell me about Jack Reacher. How would you describe him?

He’s two things in one. On the surface, he is an ex-military cop who is suddenly dumped out into the civilian world. He doesn’t fit in, and he spends his time wandering America, seeing the things that he’s never had time to see before. He’s trying to stay out of trouble, but masterfully once a year getting into trouble. He’s also the descendant of a very ancient tradition: the noble loner, the knight errant, the mysterious stranger, who has shown up in stories forever… He is a truly universal character. I think I lucked into a very fortunate position, where I’m writing the modern iteration of a character who has existed for thousands of years.

(MORENo Easy Day Bumps Fifty Shades From Top Spot)

Is he you? How much does he share with you?

All of us write wish fulfillment. It’s all some kind of idealized autobiography. The answer is that I would be him if I could get away with it.

The film Jack Reacher will be out as a film as of December, and Tom Cruise will be playing the title character.

I’m very excited about it, and I was never worried about it. I probably was the least worried person involved with the whole thing. I used to do this for a living, more or less. I was in television drama, which is a first cousin to the movies, and I trust myself to make the right decisions. I sold it to the right people, and they have done a fantastic job. The proof of that is took seven years for it to happen. That is because the team around it was so committed to getting it right.

There’s been a little bit of griping that Tom Cruise isn’t exactly the right actor to play Jack Reacher, partly because of height. Jack Reacher is 6’5’’ and Tom Cruise is not known for being tall.

Cruise is a character actor. He really gets into a role. He can understand the role. He can project the vibe. But the only real answer is go see the movie. I guarantee you will come out of it and you will think, “What was I worried about?”

Were you there for the filming?

Yes, I was there for quite a lot of the filming. They even gave me a little cameo part. I play a cop.

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Some of your readers probably don’t realize that you’re British by birth. You’re writing about America. How does that affect your perceptions?

One of the reasons people like the books is because I am an outsider, in the same way the reader is an outsider. Both of us see things that are too commonplace for Americans to see because they have lived with them all their lives. I think the outsider’s point of view is always illuminating.

Is there a big difference between what American readers want and what British readers want?

I really don’t think there is. The reactions are exactly the same on both sides of the Atlantic. As you move a little more into western and northern Europe, they’re a little more worried about how lawless Reacher is. They love him, but they’re kind of cross at themselves for loving him, because they think he should be a little more law-abiding. That’s where the divide occurs—in the English Channel, rather than in the Atlantic.

Are you an American citizen?
No, I’m not. I’m eligible, but I kind of prefer being an outsider.

I heard that you’re a smoker. Does that go along with your writing?

I think we all have some vice. Usually it’s drinking, but I don’t drink much—I smoke instead. I understand that it’s not good for you, and I understand that it might produce a bad end, but what I’m saying to people is, “My 60 years have been a lot more exciting than your 90, believe me.”

Who would Reacher vote for?

Obviously, he can’t vote. But he’d look at the candidates and say he’s voting for the black guy who came of age on the streets of Chicago. That’s Reacher’s type of guy.

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100 comments
DeanCarlson
DeanCarlson

Look for the Diane Capri parallel series,, you'll like it. Trust me

DeanCarlson
DeanCarlson

What a waste of a great franchise opportunity.

DeanCarlson
DeanCarlson

Lee Childs is a decent writer but as a business man, he is an idiot. To allow this useless movie to be a Reacher legacy. I'll never buy another book, and will deter anyone from reading, or watching anything associated with it. I could script it better. I'm ashamed I invested my time in the series, and I'd head butt your dumb ass when I see you.


kathiehansen
kathiehansen

Tom Cruise is too short to play Reacher. Sorry Lee, but once you put the character out there to the public, he is ours to imagine and you don't get to decide who we think can play him. I like Cruise too...but not as Reacher. Would have been a far better movie with someone big. All the stuff in the books about his mother and his brother and their childhood and him being the protector. How he relates to the space around him...being big is so much of who he is..you can't 'act' that away.

DonnaMoon-Glover
DonnaMoon-Glover

If Tom Cruise continues as Jack Reacher I'll never see any of Lee Child's fabulous stories turned into film. Cruise is a joke and a bad actor. He makes a mockery of a great character!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DianeTaylor1
DianeTaylor1

What's wrong with you people. I love Tom Cruise he is a great actor. You're just jealous. Tom cruise is in lots of movies

and they have all been good. I have read all the Jack Reacher novels. and I thought he did a great job.

infidel1375
infidel1375

Tom Cruise was the absolute worst casting call for Jack Reacher.  I understand why Mr. Child did it--money; Tom Cruise is a big-name actor who puts butts in seats.  Nevertheless, Cruise did a horrible job, as his performance lacked the presence that a man of Reacher's stature commands; instead of being an exceptional character, Reacher had been relegated to just another in the line action characters portrayed by Cruise.  Reacher is now Ethan Hunt without the gimmickry.  

In one scene, a girl is killed by a bad guy in the book--the only other person in the small town who fits Reacher's profile (big, strong, badass).  The significance is that this girl is killed with one punch, and Reacher is the first person who comes to mind as capable of such a feat.  Clearly, itty-bitty Tom Cruise does not strike one (sorry) as capable in this regard, thus this is edited out of the script, leaving the viewer with a haphazard and clumsy scene where the cops show up at Reacher's hotel room to arrest him without ay real probable cause.  

Sorry Mr. Child, you had a great opportunity to make a great movie about your book, but you sold out for the opportunity to make more money.  "Reacher" sucked.

MaryMiller1
MaryMiller1

Tom Cruise???????? What a joke!!!! I used to love Reacher. Now I will always associate him with Tom Cruise and scientology. Why would you cast a whimpy little boy for Reacher role?? How much did Tom Cruise pay for this role?????????

nelsaugust
nelsaugust

Anyone with any sense could see  that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Jack Reacher !!!! What is wrong with Hollywood??   Tom Cruise ! What a joke!   

And it's not just the size, it's the MAN.

wic68
wic68

I have read all of the Jack Reacher novels and I love them.  If Jack Reacher had been played by Tom Berenger, Nick Cage, Clancy Brown,

Bouzer or even Mickey Rourke all would have been better choices than Tom Cruise.  I will never go to another Reacher movie if Cruise is

involved.  He is a short twitt.

balboabobster
balboabobster

jack reacher is 6'-5" and 240.  tom cruise is 5'-7" and 150.   He's not that good an actor!

bazza
bazza

havig just finished a wanted man and having now read all 17 books the wife and i went to see the film JACK REACHER while story is good we both agreed that tom could not and did not carry off the part ,we were amazed every body in the film was bigger and taller than jack we could not assimilate tom in the role, it spoiled it for us im afraid. But if your not a reacher fanatic and you dont know how big and tough he is then you will enjoy the film.

jm6ta
jm6ta

This is not miscasting...this is a sell out.  I dont care if the movie is good...it's not going to be a Reacher movie...what a shame...

JoPage
JoPage

Jack Reacher - Tom Cruise....Absolutely no way... Never...Liam Neeson  a really good actor could have carried this off...I do not want my image of Jack Reacher spoilt by Tom Cruise... He's no Jack Reacher and never will be...

Shelley
Shelley

I think Jim Caviezel would of made a good Jack Reacher  ;-)

CarolynAnnDavis
CarolynAnnDavis

I was one of the many long term fans of Lee Child's books to be totally dismayed at the casting of Cruise as Reacher to the extent that, having seen the trailers, I didn't even want to see the film. However, with a free afternoon after Christmas, four of us (all avid fans of the books) decided to give it a chance expecting to be hugely disappointed. However, we all really enjoyed it! My husband who is notorious for enjoying a couple of snoozes every time he settles into a comfortable cinema seat stayed awake for the whole 130 mins .. .. unheard of! Whilst we felt that Cruise looked ridiculous in the 'out of context' trailers, once we were engrossed in the storyline he produces a believable performance. The film's dialogue is closely aligned to the taut, sparse writing that Lee Child's fans love & Reacher's intelligence & sense of humour come through. I never thought I'd be saying it but I would definitely recommend that fans of the books give the film a chance.

tpy2010
tpy2010

Next thing you know they'll have "Mitch Rapp" played by Adam Sandler

wenwak
wenwak

Why did the Jack Reacher character have to be an international film star?  Surely the popularity of the books meant there would be a captive audience for any films made and it would have been a fantastic opportunity to find an actor who measured up to the fictional Jack Reacher.  Sorry Tom Cruise will never measure up he always seems to play himself.  Frankly I am so dissappointed in the choice of Cruise I have no interest in seeing the film and feel he will get in the way when I read the books - so, so dissappointed!

smoky122
smoky122

Remember the character in The Green Mile who looked like a giant? Wasn't nearly as big in real life as he looked. Keep an open mind.  Kudos to Cruise or whoever  that postponed the new movie after yesterday's tragic event. I was so hoping that they would- and then I saw the subtitle that it was.  Especially after seeing the type of weapons that were used.

God bless the families that are suffering right now.

ssalty
ssalty

I've read Jack Reacher. I know Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise, you are no Jack Reacher. Ever. But then I can't think of anybody to play him either.

mcnameefg
mcnameefg

I just can't understand why anyone could have picked Tom Cruise to play Jack Reacher. Cruise is such a whimp of a man, skinny sticks for legs, short and  still looking like a mammy's boy. He is no mature fighting fit army man. I am so mad, will not be going to see movie , and now even  Lee Childs books will never be the same. What have you done,  I am so hurt and disappointed, Reacher  loved him as a character. I had always looked forward to L Childs new books now they will never be the same. Cruise you are definitely not a Reacher. 

jakinthblak
jakinthblak

Tom Cruise can no more play Jack Reacher than I can play Rachmaninov's 1st Piano Concerto blindfolded.

As a piece of miscasting, this is right up there at number one.

DanBirdie
DanBirdie

TC who bought the rights to this btw (prolly why LC is so pleased with everything, because he prolly overpaid the most and hey heres some lipservice: thanks for the money, heres my blessing ...i get 10% please watch this movie!) anyway, TC is probably looking for an action vehicle with some notoriety something with wheels and lots of material to spin into at least another big screen 3-quel or run into the ground like M.Impossible, so hey...fuc kit anyway!!! i doubt many tom cruise fans start reading reacher.  From the trailer it doesnt even sound like reacher, obviously it doesnt look like reacher...it looks like tom cruise with a a really shitty screenwrite for a generic ex military ninja backstory...

TerryLynnFrench
TerryLynnFrench

Hugh Jackman or John Cena would also be good choices.

TerryLynnFrench
TerryLynnFrench

I have been an avid fan of your Jack Reacher Novels. But, come on, give me a break, Tom Cruise of all people...........Jack Reacher is taller than anyone so you can always find  him. Tom Cruise.............too short.  The Rock, Matthew McConnoly, Vin Deisel, or even Jason Stratham. Your books have come a live in my mind.   It's as if Jack is my partner.. Look what John Travolta did to L. Ron Hubbard!s "Battlefield Earth". Now that should have been a mini series.( The book was much better. Don't let others exploit and ruin the book. Jack Reacher is so awesome of a character, that it would be a shame to take him away from us.  I won't go see any movies of "Jack Reacher". I prefer to remember the character and essence  as I always think of him. Please, Ireally think it would sacriligious, and I don't want to go blind from "Mr. Shorty Super Star".

smoky122
smoky122

Just finished Clilds book- Die Trying-  only one more to go up to his latest- A Wanted Man.  Was surprised to see Cruise cast as Jack-  but I'm a Cruise fan too and will go to watch it.  Thought struck me that the guy who plays Mr. Reese on Person of Interest would have been a good Reacher.  I devour these books- have read almost all of them in a matter of about 6 hours each. And I haven't done much reading in the last 20 years!

ronbigsky
ronbigsky

I have objected, alone, about this miscasting and have restrained from commenting; except to friends.

But, as I now see movie trailers about this first Jack Reacher film, I just had to find a venue to say just how much I hate this choice for an actor. I have read every Lee Child novel as they have come out over years.  As a previous writer commented, "I would cry if it would make any difference". I am a Tom Cruise fan, but he matches nothing my mind conjures up as an image of Jack Reacher . . . nothing!  Hulk Hogan would have been a better choice!

DeanCarlson
DeanCarlson

and I quote Lee Childs " he could not find his ass with a mirror taped to a stick",.. Echo Burning

ChristineJones
ChristineJones

I totally agree with you and I've no doubt most Jack Reacher fans do also. We can only hope Lee Child takes our opinions on board and replaces Cruise with an actor worthy of playing Jack Reacher. Then and only then will his biggest fans be able to watch the amazing stories unfold on the big screen. !!!!!

MaryHazard
MaryHazard

@DonnaMoon-Glover Not true.  Tom Cruise is an excellent actor and I've never seen him in a bad part.  It's true he doesn't fit the physical attributes of Reacher but I didn't even think about that as I watched the movie.  That being said, I would like to see Jim Caviezel play Reacher.  He does fit the physical attributes and I think he would also be good in the part.  I love him on Person of Interest.

DeanCarlson
DeanCarlson

@DianeTaylor1 apparently you have NOT read that Reacher is 6'5" and 250 lb's. with Cruise about a buck 90 and under 6 feet. Complete opposite. Worst screen adaptation I have ever seen.

MaryHazard
MaryHazard

@infidel1375 That's pure silly!  Someone who is trained to kill can certainly kill with one punch, regardless of size.  I liked Tom Cruise in the role. But if everyone is hung up on Reacher's size, maybe Jim Caviezel from Person of Interest would work.  He looks tough and he is tall enough although not as bulked up.

MaryHazard
MaryHazard

@wic68 All the actors you mention are too old to play Reacher.  I have never watched a movie with Tom Cruise and thought about his stature, just as with Pacino, DeNiro, Hoffman and a large assortment of short actors.  Not to mention Stallone.  lol

MaryHazard
MaryHazard

@Shelley Amen, Shelley!  That's what I just posted, too.  He has the stature and the demeanor to carry it off.  I love him in Person of Interest.

ssalty
ssalty

@CarolynAnnDavis It would prevent the suspension of disbelief all films require to be able to accept a man of Cruise's size do the things Reacher has done and continues to do. If Lee Child signed on to accept Tom Cruise play his creation, I've lost a lot of respect for him too.

quickwhiz
quickwhiz

@wenwak 

I totally agree with you. I was so dissapointed that I totally lost interest in seeing the movie. Choosing Tom Cruise to play Reacher is such a joke....but then again everything can be bought for the right amount of money

JohannesCross-Warren
JohannesCross-Warren

@wenwak You never know. This film could be a massive success. If Lee Child (not his real name, I know) believes this could work then try it out. You might enjoy it.

MaryHazard
MaryHazard

@ssalty Jim Caveizel from Person of Interest gets my vote.  He looks the part.

quickwhiz
quickwhiz

@mcnameefg 

I agree with you 100%....It just kills me that Child Lee sold out the Reacher character....

Davo
Davo

@smoky122 Well you won't devour A Wanted Man...obviously Cruises cheque for the rights had been cleared, when Child lobbed that disgrace of a book at his die-hard fans!

infidel1375
infidel1375

@MaryHazard Except that the book makes a big deal about this, so it is pertinenet to the story. I'm guessing you've not read this book.  Reacher was a person of interest for the murder of the auto parts girl specifically she was killed by one punch to the head that (I believe) broker her neck.  Reacher was tall and strong enough to have the needed leverage to perform such a feat.  Because Cruise is so puny, this was edited out of the movie.