Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Really?
If you don’t yet know who Jack Reacher is, you will. Reacher is Lee Child’s cross between Rambo and Kung Fu, a former military policeman with an insanely accurate memory and a mind that can figure out any mathematical equation on the fly. Since mustering out of the military, he’s traveled light, typically with only the clothes on his back and a toothbrush. Reacher is a formidable opponent, sleek and powerful. And massive.
So when word got out that Tom Cruise would be playing Reacher in Jack Reacher, coming this holiday season to a theater near you, Child’s fans were irate. Tom Cruise is a fine actor, they figured, but Reacher is a big guy. A big, strong guy. A linebacker. Tom Cruise is more like a shortstop.
For the record, the movie’s cast includes Cruise and Robert Duvall, so there’s a decent chance it’ll be good. But Cruise is the last guy most people would have figured for Jack Reacher. According to Lee Child’s website, the author is “thrilled and can’t wait to see the final cut.” Of course, even if Child thinks Cruise isn’t quite the right guy, it would be bad form (and a contractual violation) to publicly argue.
If anyone can overcome the difference in stature, it would be Cruise. Crazy as he is, he’s a hell of an actor. And honestly, without going the Vin Deisel route, no one better immediately comes to mind. But from the time I see the movie, I’ll see Reacher differently.
Which brings to mind other actors who were cast for parts based on book characters:
- Robert Urich as Spenser. Urich was a prolific actor and his body type was right. But he wasn’t hard enough to play the character. Put James Caan in Robert Urich’s body and maybe you have something. Joe Mantegna played the part better, but he made Spenser look like he’d been really sick for a long time.
- Avery Brooks as Hawk. Avery Brooks was Hawk. His casting was perhaps the most perfect I’ve seen in an adaptation of books.
- Michelle Monaghan as Angie Gennaro. Gone Baby Gone was an incredible book. Now when I read any of Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro series, I see Casey Affleck as Patrick. Amy Madigan was perfect as Bea McCready. But Angie is feisty and often ready to mix it up. Monaghan played her much more passively.
- Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes. Cock-a-doodie perfect. (Of course, I have to say that, or she’ll make me cut my thumbs off with an electric knife.)
- Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs. If Redford were ten years younger, this would be dead-on perfect. Still, it’s the best baseball movie ever made, based in no small part on Redford’s work.
- Pretty much everyone in Harry Potter. All the major characters fulfilled my imaginary vision of what I thought they’d be. Though I think Patrick Stewart would have made a fantastic Dumbledore.
- Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. Jodie Foster is a great actress, but by the time Silence of the Lambs came out, I thought she was in her mid-thirties (she was actually 28). I figured Starling for younger than that and had a hard time getting over the difference.
How about you? Who would you have play Reacher? What actor nailed it as a book character and what actor do you think was horribly miscast?