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The Major Adjustment Reacher Made To The Jack Reacher Character To Make The Show More Interesting

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher.
(Image credit: Prime Video)

The Jack Reacher that Alan Ritchson plays in Amazon Prime Video’s new series Reacher is as close to the vision that exists in author Lee Child’s head… yet still different in one or two key areas. Basically, it’s physically impossible for an authentic human being to mirror the stature and solid mass that Child describes when he writes Jack Reacher on a page. As big as Ritchson is – and believe me, he’s massive and trained to fight – he’s always going to fall a little short (no pun intended) of the Reacher readers have been reading about for years. But showrunner Nick Santora just revealed another adjustment that had to be made when bringing the character from the page to the screen.

Those who read the Lee Child series on Jack Reacher know that the traveling investigator doesn’t waste time on words. He’s a man of action, of analysis, and of deep thought. These thoughts can be described in Child’s colorful text, but they’d make for a dull on-screen hero. So Nick Santora admitted to TVLine:

I wouldn’t call it ‘changing,’ but we had to adjust one major thing: Reacher does a lot of thinking, and in the books that is not expressed outwardly through dialogue. Lee Child was able to describe what the character was thinking at any given moment, but if we do that on TV, we have an hour of watching a guy, trying to guess what he is thinking at that moment. [Laughs] So we had to make Reacher a touch more verbal, but we tried to be very concise with our language and verbiage, and we tried to have Reacher only speak when necessary. You’ll see that he only really explains things to people he respects. So, he’ll explain stuff to Roscoe (played by Willa Fitzgerald) or to Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin), but to some jerk that he doesn’t like, he’ll just go and do what he does without a word.

As a rabid Jack Reacher fan, I will have to admit that hearing Alan Ritchson talk as much as he does in the series was… unusual. Reacher is the textbook definition of the strong and silent type, but Nick Santora brings up an excellent point that such an approach to a lead character wouldn’t work that well for a show. 

I do like that, when figuring out how to adapt the story, they brought over the element of Reacher really only choosing WHO he shares his information with, because there are plenty of people in Reacher that our main hero can not trust as he works to get to the bottom of the crimes that are occurring in the rural Georgia town in which he has landed. And Reacher certainly doesn’t pull back on the knuckle-smashing brutality that comes with a Lee Child story – which helps Reacher to become one of the best Amazon Prime Video shows available on the streamer right now. 

We know that there will be a Reacher season two, and star Alan Ritchson told us the Lee Child book that he’d like to adapt. We will keep track of the progress on the next series, though it likely won’t be available on the streaming service until at least the end of 2023. Can’t wait that long? Scan our list of the 2022 TV Premiere Dates to see what other shows you can start investing in.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.