A big point of controversy among fans is some of the casting that went on, especially Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. When asked, Lee applauded the collective efforts of every actor, stating “Whatever I’m watching, baseball, football, I like to see things done really, really well. That’s what I was seeing throughout and it was very inspiring. It makes me think I should work a little bit harder to come up with something they can’t do.”
But for fans it’s hard to ignore Cruise’s physical stature in comparison to Jack Reacher’s. In Child’s description, he paints Reacher as a six foot five, 250 pound buff male with blonde hair and blue eyes. Cruise is pretty much the opposite. This didn’t sway any decision makers though, starting with Christopher reassuring “we started to compile the list of six foot five, 250 pound blonde haired blue eyed American actors, and discovered not only were there none, there had never been one, and there were none in the pipeline.” Well, OK, that actually makes sense.
“We knew very early on fans were going to have a reaction no matter who we cast, and we thought ‘Well if they’re going to be angry, let’s make sure they’re angry before they see the movie and not after they see the movie.” Hmm, Ok, I’ll bite. “There’s a difference between character and characteristics, who he is and how he interacts with people.” Alright, I’ll admit at first I was on the anti-Tom Cruise train, but after seeing the film, color me a believer in McQuarrie’s message. “[Reacher’s] physical size became an obstacle for great many scenes, before I had an actor in mind, he was somebody so big. I had a six foot five guy and suddenly had to fill the room with six foot eight guys so that I had any sense of tension or suspense as to how he would get out of it.” Well I’d say Cruise gives you plenty of opportunities there with his smaller size.
Lee also weighed in on Tom playing Jack Reacher, saying size doesn’t play as big a roll on screen when compared to the book. Sure, in the book, on a blank page, you need that sort of stand out characteristic which pops, in this case Jack Reacher being a giant man – but it’s all in your imagination. Child mades a great point by saying both the book and film versions of Silence of the Lambs were phenomenal, but in the book, Hannibal Lecter has six fingers on one hand. This was a grotesquery that was needed for creative writing purposes, but in the film you’ve already got Anthony Hopkins being loads grotesque enough, and it just wasn’t a necessary detail anymore for cinema audiences to grip the level of repulsion – Hopkins alone was enough.
Child goes on saying “Ten percent of my fans are going to hate the movie anyway because it’s their possession that’s being taken away from them. Ninety percent of them, if they go in with open minds, are going to come out like I did and want to see it again, immediately, because it’s good.” Looks like both creative minds are standing firmly behind star Tom Cruise, and with good reason.
Probably the most interesting tidbit to hear about was Tom Cruise’s involvement in the car stunts, because he is an “amateur” race car driver and all – but to what extent? Christopher told us “[the car chase scene] in the script is very short. He drives away from the hotel and promptly crashes the car and runs away.” Nope, that isn’t what we see at all. “Tom read those pages and had vision, saying ‘Look, I think this can be the set piece, the central sequence of the movie, tell me what you want to do and we’ll figure out a way to do it.’ [Looking back on old car chases] we decided if the camera wasn’t in danger, the shot wasn’t worth doing. Quite often you were seeing instances where the camera probably did get wiped out on the next take. The other mandate that grew out of this was you have a guy that’s a professional driver, he should be in every possible shot he can. We then went back to Tom with this car chase and design, and the assistant director figured out [through all the shots] about 20% of those Tom would be explicitly on camera. We said ‘OK Tom, you’re going to be in these shots, then we’ll go off and shoot with the second unit,’ and Tom said ‘No, I’m going to be in all the shots.’ McQuarrie went on to explain the challenge then shifted from the olden days when directors struggled to make sure you couldn’t tell it wasn’t the actor driving, to now actually wanting to prove your actor was whipping around turns and driving in reverse.
Finally, concerning David’s casting, we were told director Christopher McQuarrie actually had an entirely different actor in mind and was decided on his choice until he saw David’s audition, and then the problem became needing to find a way to incorporate him somehow. Guess who was the voice of reason? Yup, in piped Tom again, saying “He’s really good, just put him in the role, just do it!” Looks like what Cruise wants, Cruise gets, and the man obviously knows talent when he sees it.
Be sure to check out Jack Reacher when it opens December 21st, 2012, and thanks to all the talent who took the time to talk!