Why Reboot Jack Ryan?
Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh Discuss Bringing Ryan Back to Screens
IGN, 7 January 2013
Christmas Day 2013 sees the release of 'Jack Ryan', Paramount Pictures’ reboot of the thrilling franchise that kicked off with 'The Hunt for Red October' in 1990 and continued with 'Patriot Games', 'Clear and Present Danger' and 'The Sum of All Fears'.
Following in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, Chris Pine now takes the title role, with the film going back to the beginning to explain how Ryan became the hero that millions of film and book fans have come to know and love.
Kenneth Branagh plays the villain and also directs, with the action taking place in both New York and Moscow. But last October, Branagh and co were shooting in London, and IGN hit the set to interview everyone involved.
We’ll run the full piece later in the year, but for now, we’ll let the filmmakers and cast fill you into as to why they’ve decided to reboot the franchise.
First up we spoke to Mace Neufield, producer of all the Jack Ryan films thus far. “I’ve been trying to restart [the franchise] for nine years, but with executive changes and having really run out of books we could do,” he explained. “What triggered it was [producer] Lorenzo [di Bonaventura] saying we could go to a green-light with Kenneth.”
“We had lunch – he had read the script and liked it and had some suggestions, but more than that he had gone beyond the call of duty and read every Tom Clancy book. And that’s a lot of pages. And he had seen all of the movies, and was totally prepared and very enthusiastic.”
Branagh explained that it was the story that convinced him to transition from Thor to Ryan: “This script arrived and was unputdownable. I knew the previous films, I’d read some of the books. Simple as that.
“It’s the kind of film that I go to see. The world of the film has the antecedence of '70s movies of great style that I very much admired – 'All the President's Men', 'The Parallax View' – quite extreme espionage thrillers with slightly distorted worlds.”
With that world in place, the filmmakers then had to find actors to fill the cast, with Kevin Costner landing the role of legendary CIA Field Agent William Harper. And yet this wasn't Costner's first brush with the franchise...
“I was offered the Jack Ryan series back in the very beginning,” he explained. “I couldn’t do it – I think it was 'Hunt for Red October', and I couldn’t do it because I had already postponed 'Dances with Wolves' for one year. And now I had a chance to do this 'Red October', but I had already assembled my crew and put my money into it. And then they offered me a lot of money to do it – more than I had ever seen. And I said ‘No, doesn’t mean more. It’s just no.’ And it was like, ‘Ah, that silly little Indian movie.’ And I started to think it was a silly little Indian movie, but I went off and did that and never caught back up."
But key to the success of the reboot would be the casting of the title character, with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura explaining that they were looking for a movie star whom it would be easy to relate to.
“Jack’s an everyman. Everyman’s probably the wrong word because he’s living in an extraordinary place, and his education certainly isn’t exactly everyman. But what I mean is when you are watching a Jack Ryan movie you feel like you could be in the same place, and you’d hope you’d do the same thing. He’s not Bourne. He can’t take out 10 guys with one hand tied behind his back. Which is fun as hell. But I think that’s what makes him a very approachable hero, and he has a really strong sense of what’s right and wrong.”
The filmmakers therefore decided that Captain Kirk himself - Chris Pine - was just the man to bring the character back.
“Having Chris Pine as Jack Ryan furthered the advance of this particular film and hopefully others to follow,” explained producer David Barron. “He’s a really strong contemporary hero. He’s good looking, clean-cut, the camera likes him. He’s an easy hero to put at the centre of a film like this, and what we hope will be a series of films like this.”
Pine revealed that he jumped at the chance to play the part, because Ryan is both different to Captain Kirk and the many other action characters currently dominating the genre.
As Pine explains: “Bourne has his body. He’s very physically adept at kicking ass. Bond looks great doing it – he’s brooding and complicated but he wears a suit well and drives great cars. The challenge with Jack is how do you make dynamic his smarts? His weapon is his brain. He thinks and moves with his mind faster than other people.”
Whether Branagh, Pine and co will be able to achieve that goal and have brain trump brawn remains to be seen, but audiences will find out on December 25, 2013 when Jack Ryan hits screens worldwide.