First, let me emphasize that this is not about the highly subjective question whether or not Tom Cruise should play Jack Reacher.

Lee Child's novel One Shot is being turned into a movie. Tom Cruise plays the main character, Jack Reacher. However, people knowing Reacher – a 6'5" giant – will understand why this has been (and is) a matter of fierce debate. But Lee Child approves of it, and, frankly, it's none of our business. So, case closed.

What I'm curious about, though, is whether there have been other serious candidates to play Jack Reacher and why they opted out or were found less suitable than Cruise.

I can read the facts, but this kind of background is interesting but hard to find.

  • Too bad a younger Clint Eastwood wasn't available
    – user4462
    Mar 27, 2013 at 21:01
  • this isn't good question in my opinion as its "Unimportant trivia that does not add to the understanding or appreciation of the title. "
    – minusSeven
    May 16, 2013 at 17:54
  • @minusSeven To me it has bearing on the appreciation of the movie. I wanted to avoid the issue, but after having read all Jack Reacher novels, just about the last actor I'd imagine to play this role was Tom Cruise. It would have (slightly) helped me to know that no one else was willing or available. Knowing it was a political game makes me appreciate the movie less. It's not trivial to me, but I don't mind other people having a different opinion. May 17, 2013 at 12:18
  • 1
    @GertArnold Yet Lee Child himself said: "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way. [...] With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you'll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height." But to which extent this was retconned to justify the decision afterwards I don't know.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 21, 2013 at 14:50
  • Perhaps someone like Dwayne Johnson or Dave Bautista should be under consideration. "The Rock" is a much better actor than his material usually suggests and Dave Bautista is certainly on the rise. I enjoyed the film but would have liked an actor closer to the original description in the books. Most of the actors at the start do not fit the bill.
    – user21842
    Jun 4, 2015 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


According to the Wall Street Journal there were several candidates to play Jack Reacher: Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Vince Vaughn, Jamie Fox and Will Smith.

In the article Lee Child explains they went through the list of names above even thinking they should 'find the biggest guy possible'. Reading on you can see it's a money thing. Paramount bought the option for the entire Reacher catalog and gave it to Tom Cruise's production company.

Before Tom Cruises production company was involved Lee Child even joked 'Definitely not Tom Cruise.'

Paramount offered a lot more money than Newline and Tom Cruise came along with the deal. There may have been more suitable candidates, but it didn't matter because Tom Cruise already had the in.


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