Child is father to the man
Novelist Lee Child’s Jack Reacher hits the movies
By Steve Fisher
JACK REACHER, the 6-foot- 5, 250-pound
former U.S. Army MP—a man with no home
and no belongings, but with his own moral
code for fighting injustices—has starred in 17
best-selling novels by Lee Child (the pen
name of Jim Grant). Reacher now makes his
first big-screen appearance in the eponymous
Jack Reacher (based on the book One Shot),
starring Tom Cruise. The author was an integral part of the transition,
saying, “I was involved all
the time.” It wasn’t a difficult
segue because Child worked
in theater and television in
his native England before a
downsizing at Granada
Television left him unemployed. Drawing on his years
in entertainment, he chose to
become a novelist.
The Connection recently
spoke with Child on writing the
books and unleashing his big
character on the big screen.
80 ;e Costco Connection MAY 2013
Costco Connection: Why did
you decide to create an American protagonist
rather than drawing on your British roots?
Lee Child: It was the nature of the character.
I really wanted this alienated wanderer who
lived an isolated, anonymous life and goes
from place to place. And that was going to
need a huge stage, big sky, empty country,
dangerous place. You found it in Europe in
the Middle Ages … but that character was
forced out of Europe in the 19th century to
America and the West.
CC: Where did the character come from?
LC: I was out of work and broke, and it was
very important that this work—because I
needed to eat, basically. But I knew enough
about entertainment by that point after
“The only thing
you can do is
write from the
heart and hope
for the best.”
20-plus years to know you can’t just design it.
You can’t just sit there and draw a blueprint
and then write about it. Because that’s somehow cynical, manufactured or cardboard.
The only thing you can do is write from the
heart and hope for the best … which is what
I did, because that gives the book a kind of
organic energy and [a] kind of vivid, beating
heart. And Reacher is what came out.
CC: When you sit down to write, do you have
the whole plot worked out?
LC: It’s all literally made up on the spur of the
moment. What happens in the next sentence,
that’s fresh to me. So, I have no outline and
CC: A lot of your fans were less than thrilled
when it was announced that Tom Cruise would
play the unusually tall Reacher. [Cruise is
reportedly 5-foot- 7.] Was there any discussion
of somebody else playing the role?
LC: There was a lot of discussion about who
should play the role. And most of it was centered around the physical impact. We found
two things. There really are no [stars] of Jack
Reacher’s stature, so whoever you would pick
would be a compromise of at least several
inches and 30 or 40 pounds. Eventually we
thought we should just go for the actor with
the best technical skill who could bring the
other parts of Reacher to the screen, which
are really just as important. So if you look at
the actors who understand action roles like
that but also have a thinking component, it
very quickly came to Cruise as the best guy.
CC: Of all the books, why was One Shot chosen
as the first book to be filmed?
LC: A movie has to work within itself, but also
maybe it will become a franchise, so the
opening of the first movie becomes very
important. One Shot was the only book where
Reacher actually doesn’t appear for the first
several chapters of the book. Translated into