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Tom Cruise axed from Jack Reacher film series because he's 'too short'

Tom Cruise axed from Jack Reacher film series because he's 'too short'

Since thriller writer Lee Chid introduced his all American hero Jack Reacher in the 1997 novel Killing Floor, the brawny, calculated character has been pursued by all manner of armed-to-the-teeth villians, shielded the Vice President from assassination, and has made a habit of foiling the nefarious plots of terrorist organisations and neo-Nazis.  

There are at least 100 million Jack Reacher novels in print, and with all those books comes a large and passionate community of readers.

But the hugely-anticipated 2012 film adaption of the series copped a stinging backlash from this dedicated fanbase.

Jack Reacher, who is described by Child as ‘a huge, intimidating bruiser ... a big, probably a bit ugly sorta guy’ was played by Tom Cruise – a 5’7, handsome Hollywood mainstay.

Fans were not happy. They have complained for years the Cruise is a foot too short to match the character’s description. One fan tweeted, ‘Not only is Tom Cruise 10 inches too short to play Jack Reacher, he says more works in the trailer than Reacher says in 3 books.’ Many readers have called for a new, unknown actor who actually fits the physical description of Reacher to play the role.

Lee Child says he was ‘very happy’ with the two Reacher movies starring Cruise, but told the Good Reading Podcast, ‘the readership of my books never ever really warmed to the physical mismatch between Jack Reacher and Tom Cruise.’

‘The thing about readers is that you cannot tell them what to think. They are infinitely stubborn. They have their own view.’

Child and his team have decided to drop Cruise and search for a new actor who will star in a ‘binge-watch’ style TV show rather than feature-length movies.

‘It’s an infinitely better way of putting a novel on the screen,’ Child says of the planned Reacher TV show.

‘I’m gonna miss working with Cruise. I want him to still be involved as an executive producer, which he probably will be.’

Child asked his readers for suggestions of who should take over the portrayal of Reacher in a Facebook post that has attracted over 10,000 comments made by fans embroiled in the discussion.

The author, who is currently touring Australia promoting the latest Reacher novel, Past Tense, says that the readers ‘have ownership’ of his stories and he therefore respects their opinions.

‘Reading is a very curious thing. It’s not like screen entertainment, it’s not like music, it’s not like anything else in which the product washes over the consumer. Reading is a two-way street.

‘Reading is ultimately about the reader interrogating the text, at which point the story emerges in the reader’s head. The reader’s mental energy is being burned. The reader’s calories are being used. It’s the reader creating the story at that point, they literally have ownership of it, so I want them to have ownership of who plays the character.’

Listen to our podcast interview with Lee Child on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, or any other podcast app by searching for the Good Reading Podcast.