Tom Cruise took a lot of flak when he was initially cast as Jack Reacher almost a decade ago, for the simple reason that he was about a foot shorter than the character has always been described in the books. It doesn’t matter how good of an actor you are, nobody would be able to convince an audience that the world’s biggest movie star has suddenly experienced a mid-life growth spurt.
Diminutive stature or not though, Jack Reacher was nonetheless a solidly entertaining action thriller that fully embraced the old school, and follow-up Never Go Back remains the only sequel that Cruise has made in his entire career outside of the Mission: Impossible franchise. At least until Top Gun: Maverick hits theaters in December.
But when it comes to musclebound actors that stand six and a half feet tall that suit Reacher’s profile, there’s really only one man that fits the bill. And sure enough, Dwayne Johnson admitted in a recent social media Q&A that Jack Reacher was one of the few times in his career that he’d gone after a role and been unsuccessful.
“There are actors that can vie for a particular role because it allows for them to have a certain look, skin color, size, etc. Fortunately for me, there aren’t a lot guys that look like me. So all of my roles, from the beginning of my career, I’ve been a lucky son of a b*tch that they’ve been created and designed for me. Except Jack Reacher.”
The idea of The Rock and Tom Cruise being in contention for the same role is a funny thought given the size discrepancy, but despite being much closer in stature to Lee Child’s literary creation, Johnson admitted that the bigger name was always going to win out in the end.
“Now, this was ten years ago, and I was in a much different place I recognize that. Tom was the biggest movie star in the world, and I was not. I got the call saying, ‘Hey, you didn’t get the role’. Look, I didn’t even know if I had a shot for it, but the people around me at the time made me think that they did. I felt like I did. I felt like, ‘Why not me?’.”
Luckily for Dwayne Johnson, he is in fact the biggest movie star in the world right now, and can pretty much do whatever he pleases. But when it came to casting Jack Reacher when the title role was up for grabs, they were always much more likely to opt for Tom Cruise over the guy that had just starred in The Tooth Fairy.