Character Assassination: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.


Does anyone else feel betrayed when the main characters on a book cover in no way match the characters in the book? I do and it’s such a glaring flaw for me that it takes something away from the enjoyment of the story. And that’s a small, albeit grating, issue.

Casting someone in a movie who is so wholly out of place in the role of a character I love to read is an all together different kettle of fish. Stinky fish. Stinky bottom feeding fish. AARRGGHH.


I’ve read every Reacher novel, most of them more than once. (If you haven’t dipped your toe into Lee Child’s Reacher series, Bad Luck and Trouble is a great read.) I will NOT see One Shot with Tom Cruise as Reacher. That’s like having Woody Allen direct The Shining; so blatantly wrong, it just becomes farcical.

Character should matter to a story-teller no matter what expression the story takes, in this instance a movie. Reacher is 6′ 5″, anywhere between 210 and 250 lbs, rugged and blond. Every story has his physical description as an element of who he is. Often, Reacher can’t buy clothes that fit, and this is a problem since the only item Reacher carries with him as he wanders the country saving the day is a portable, folding tooth-brush. Always, always, always, Reacher uses his extreme physicality to annihilate one or more bad guys at a time. He is aware of his size all the time. Taking that away from Reacher indelibly changes his character.

Dolph Lundgren, theΒ  wonderful actor Ray Stevenson, Liam Neeson, heck, even some-what shorter Sean Bean, would all have been better choices. On Lee Child’s FB page this morning there were 949 comments commenting on the new book cover featuring Tom Cruise. Almost without exception fans of the books are disappointed to such an extent, not only will they not see the movie, some won’t buy any more Reacher books. I will. I love Reacher. What I won’t do is have the magic die by watching Tom Cruise mutilate a character I like to spend time with.


Perhaps Mr. Child genuinely likes this choice, but I doubt it. Thoughts?

21 thoughts on “Character Assassination: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.

  1. I have to agree. I personally won’t see any movie with Tom Cruise in it. The same with Charlie Sheen and a couple of other actors who offend me on so many levels. Why studios refuse to at least try to match the actor to the characters is beyond me.

    As for book covers, I try very hard to find cover photos that match my characters, but sometimes it’s really hard. I spend hours, sometimes days, browsing thousands of stock photos looking for just the right picture. And often I give up in frustration and pick something less than what I want.


    • I agree, it’s hard to find covers that accurately reflect characters…I’ve started showing bodies instead! :D. I’m so glad my copies of Mr. Child’s Reacher books DO NOT have Tom Cruise on the covers. I’d have to tear them off.


  2. I love the Jack Reacher books, and am sorely disappointed at the choice of Tom Cruise. There was a huge flack when he was chosen for Interview with a Vampire, another blond man. But knowing Hollywood, Tom probably pursued that role. I doubt Lee Child had any input on the main character choice. Though I could be wrong. I won’t be rushing to see that movie either, I’ll wait until it shows up on TV. It is disgusting to ruin the Jack Reacher personna by choosing someone who just doesn’t fit my mental image of the character.


  3. I definitely agree with this Leigh. I’m not at all a fan of Tom Cruise. I haven’t read this book but from the description you gave of the main character, any one of the men you mentioned would have been better suited for that role in the upcoming film. A similar thing can be seen with Tom Hanks playing Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. When will they get it right?!?

    Thanks for the post Leigh!


    • Agreed on both counts, although this one disturbs me more because who Reacher is, is at least partially owing to his size. Thanks for visiting!


  4. Some author, I think it was Stephen King, said that when you get your book made into a movie, step back. An author has one vision and a director/producer has another. Just take the check and enjoy the money.


    • I am so hoping I’m in that predicament some day :D. I understand the theory, I just can’t stomach losing my enjoyment of the books by seeing the movie. It sounds like almost all Reacher fans feel the same way judging by the comments on FB. I will read the new books, but if this movie flops more Reacher movies may not be made, ultimately a loss of revenue for Mr.Child. With the right lead this could have been great. I guess only time will tell.


    • Stephanie, it’s so disappointing to see heroes, flawed, yet larger than life characters we love, so diminished. Pun very much intended! πŸ˜€


  5. Leigh, I totally agree. When I heard that Cruise was going to be Jack Reacher, I was stunned. I cannot think of anyone LESS like this character. I love those books, and I too have read them all. Liam Neeson would have been a perfect choice or any actor similar in looks and “cragginess.” Cruise may be a good actor, but he just doesn’t fit the part. However, I once heard Lawrence Block say, after selling Matt Scudder to the movies, that you just take the money and shut up — paraphrasing of course.

    Hollywood rarely casts according to the character’s attributes. They cast according to who sells tickets at the box office which is why books made into movies rarely satisfy the book’s fans.


    • Point well taken, Joan. I have a niggling memory, probably about 7 or so years ago, of hearing that Tom Cruise bought the option on One Shot. Once the $ are paid out for options, I guess that’s it. I’d sure like to hear the details of that contract and what if any rights an author retains. In the end, it is probably good advice to take the $ and run. Still, I’d like to see more Reacher movies and that may not happen if this one doesn’t do well. I will keep reading the books, though! πŸ˜€


  6. I really do need to climb out of my cave and find out what is going on in the world. I’ve never heard of Reacher. But I do agree that covers should match the books. It drives me nuts. I get an idea and can never find what I want. We all know who our characters are and what they look like. And putting that across to our readers is important, but to have some different on a cover, in a movie, or on the TV is blasphemy.


    • I’m with you, E. Sacrilege…I Say! :D. Normally I don’t mind so much, but here size definitely matters. Reacher (6′ 5″, 210-250lbs, 50inch chest and rough) isn’t Reacher at 5’6″ and pretty. If you enjoy raw, and violent male thrillers, that are really well written, you’ll enjoy Lee Child’s character, Reacher. If you get one from the library, you’ll know in the first 5 or so pages whether you’ll enjoy it. Thanks for reading & posting! πŸ™‚


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