Alan Ritchson: ‘There is no way to compare me to Tom Cruise’

01 James Norton-The reacher
Alan Ritchson
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By María Estevez, special for MWN

Alan Ritchson stars in “Reacher,” the new crime thriller series by Amazon. The 39-year-old plays a hard-hitting former military police investigator who is arrested for a murder he didn’t commit and takes on a small town to prove they have the wrong guy.

Jack Reacher seems to be somewhat of a mythical figure. He does represent this larger-than-life action hero that a few years ago was created for the movies by Tom Cruise. Talking about the mysticism of this character, the actor admits being surprised to be compared with the star of “Mission Impossible.”

What were the toughest scenes you shot in this new show?

One of the toughest scenes for me was the one we shot at the beginning of the season because there was a lot of pressure to get it right. I wanted to honor all the many readers of “Reacher.” And also there was a lot of pressure from the producers, writers, directors as everyone has their own idea of Reacher, a character that is very different from others. The first scene was a huge one, it was a six-page interrogation, and it was a scary process for me.

Did you get inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger to create the character?

No, I am channeling my own inner desire to see people brought to justice. I walk around with a tap-down rage under the surface wanting to see a fairer world. I lived carefully through Reacher, so it was fun for me. I do enjoy the scenes when bad guys get what is coming to them. I never channeled Schwarzenegger, unfortunately.

Was physicality important for your character?

Yes, the physicality in the books is a character in itself. That is something that we all wanted to get right. I put in 30 pounds for the role as he is a big guy and I wanted to honor the story. He is someone who impresses every time he gets in a room, people wonder if he is a friend or a foe, hoping he is a friend. So yes, this was a big part. But the many hats that I’ve worn in my career – directing, acting, writing, producing – gave me an advantage because I can be a better collaborator. I know how to respond as an actor depending on the lens the director is working with. Knowing those things as an actor helps everybody.

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Did you give something of your own to the role?

Hopefully not. The kind of actor I always desire to emulate are phenomenal character actors trapped in a persona. Look at Leonardo DiCaprio. He becomes a character and somehow makes us magically forget that he is Leonardo DiCaprio. I want to provide the same gift to audiences and hope they forget about me. I don’t share many qualities that make Reacher so interesting, so I want to get out of his way.

Were you a fan of Reacher or did you have to do a lot of research for the role?

When I realized that I had a shooting, I decided to read the books (Killing Floor and prequels) and I couldn’t put them down so I regret the decades that I missed being able to enjoy Reacher, but better later than never. I am glad that Reacher found me.

Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher in 2012…

There is no way to compare me to Tom Cruise. He is a legend and I’m not. I want to look towards the books and Lee Child work, honor that and bring the best Richard that I can. It is strange to be mentioned in the same sentence as Tom Cruise but I’m grateful to put in Reacher in my own take and bring new life into this. I’m grateful for the times we live in when a stream can tell the story of a book in a season instead of having two hours to do it.

You played superheroes before. Is Reacher like Aquaman?

Aquaman was my first role and was many many years ago. I was a boy happy to wear Speedos all day long but there is a youthful earnest to Aquaman that is related to Reacher. A guy with a lot of pain and skeletons in his closet… while Reacher is different because his past is not necessarily weighing on him.

What was the most fun part of playing Reacher?

I remember earlier on in the process somebody asked me what my favorite Reacher’s quality was, I wasn’t familiar yet with all the books but I said at the time, ‘For what I know, it is the way he walks in a room without thinking what people think.’ And that was fun to me to play but now what I like is his brutal honesty, the fact that he doesn’t give a sh-t of what people think of him.

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