‘Jack Reacher’ Director Christopher McQuarrie on ‘Directing Jail’ & Sequel Ideas

Published 1 year ago by

jack reacher tom cruise1 Jack Reacher Director Christopher McQuarrie on Directing Jail & Sequel Ideas

SR: What made you settle on ‘Jack Reacher’ as a film you wanted to not only write, but direct as well? 

McQ: It was the first film that anyone would let me do in twelve years. After ‘The Way of the Gun’ I went hard to work on what the next movie was going to be, and spent the next twelve years not being able to get anything made. I was adamantly steadfast with still developing the kind of material that was – whether or not I thought it was – it was stuff that was still intensely anti-commercial. The look of ‘Way of the Gun’ – the way that ‘Way of the Gun’ was shot – did not lead to anybody saying, ‘Yeah! Let’s get that guy to direct our movie!’ Whereas with ‘The Usual Suspects’ I still had people wanting me to write their screenplays.  

So I just never successfully made that transition… I don’t think anybody considered me to be a director until [Producer] Don Granger came to me after ‘Valkyrie’ with this [Lee Child] book. I had never heard of the books before, and he said to me, ‘I want you to write and direct the adaptation of this book,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m not going to help you do that. I’ve been in director jail for twelve years, I’m never going to ask permission to make a movie again. I’d rather not make a movie than ask permission. And the truth of the matter is, if I write this thing they’re just going to dangle directing in front of me like a carrot, and when it’s over we’re going to come to some kind of falling-out, and then they’re going to have a script that I wrote and somebody else is going to direct it. And I don’t need to spend more time building somebody else’s brand. So if you can get the studio to offer me the movie, I’ll do it – but otherwise I’m not going to read the book.’

Jack Reacher Spoilers Jack Reacher Director Christopher McQuarrie on Directing Jail & Sequel Ideas

The other thing I said was, ‘You have to get Tom to sign off on this, because I know he’s attached as a producer – I have to assume that Tom wants to be an actor in this movie; he’s not going to want to be in a movie with me directing. I don’t have the track record of the directors that he’s worked with previously, so you need to get Tom to just let the book go, so that it’s mine free and clear.’

Now I gave these instructions to Don Granger thinking that he could not achieve either of them, and to his credit, he came back a week later and he’d gotten the studio to offer me the movie and he’d gotten Tom to say, ‘Go with God – it’s yours.’ About four months later I was finished with the script; we handed it to Tom in his capacity as producer – while he was making ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ – and he and I ended up talking about the script and he said, ‘Look, I don’t know who you have in mind to play this guy, but I’d love to do it.’

So I never had to go through the stress of sending the script to an actor and waiting two, four, six, weeks for them to get around to reading the script and say yes or no; I sent it to the producer for notes on the script and I got a call back from the actor.

Now that you’ve successfully done a film like this – would you do it again? 

Definitely would do it again. I mean I love working with Tom, I love this character, I love the size of this movie. It’s a nice, gritty, handful of a budget, but it’s not too big and it’s not too small.

Tom Cruise Jack Reacher1 Jack Reacher Director Christopher McQuarrie on Directing Jail & Sequel Ideas

Tom Cruise in ‘Jack Reacher’

Which Lee Child Reacher novel would you want to tackle in a sequel? 

I’m not quite sure what book yet – I’m sure I know what terrain that I want to go after. The first book, ‘The Killing Floor,’ is more rural; in fact, the reason we avoided it is because it felt a little too ‘Walking Tall,’ a little too small town. Some of the other books that involved big cities we knew that we couldn’t do because it truly isn’t quintessential Jack Reacher and it gave you no place to go [in sequels]. The reason why we settled on Pittsburgh was because it was a nice sort of middle-sized city.

What I’d like to do next is cut rural – go for one of those books that takes place in the badlands, out in the Dakotas, something like that, where the terrain reflects the character of the next movie. Because in truth, the next movie is not going to be such a complex mystery as ‘One Shot’ is – and more importantly, I don’t have to set up Jack Reacher. The next movie can begin with him right there on page one walking in; there’s going to be less dialogue, and it’s going to be a tougher, grittier, sparser movie. So I think the landscape should reflect that.

And then, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to go to a third movie, and then you blow it open, you go to a big city. You go to the one that takes place in New York and London, so that he’s always a fish out of water and he’s got a different thrust in each movie.

-

Given the positive slant of our Jack Recher review, suffice to say we’re glad that McQuarrie is out of ‘director jail’ and his hard-boiled style is a suitable fit for the franchise.

Jack Reacher is now playing in theaters. If you want to discuss the film in detail, head over to our Jack Reacher Spoilers Discussion. For more with McQuarrie, check out our discussion of his plans to expand Fox’s X-Men Universe and his beloved script for what he calls ‘Kurosawa’s Wolverine’.

 

« 1 2

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: Jack Reacher

9 Comments

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. Loved Way of the Gun! It was fresh and brought some depth to the usual shoot ‘em ups. That was the movie that inspired me for my own pet project. Even loved his unused idea in the commentary- start movie with a trailer to fill in back-story (which I stole and put in my project)

  2. I have read every Jack Reacher Novel and refuse to go see a movie with a weasel playing the part. Whoever cast Cruise has lost his mind. If anyone plans on sequels someone had better cast a beleivable Reacher. Tom is short and could not beat up a fly.

    • boB
      Quit being so narrow-minded! I too have read all the Reacher books, and I, like the author, Lee Child, felt Tom made a perfect Reacher.
      If you don’t want to go see it, that’s your loss.

      • That’s not true…Lee Child DID NOT feel Cruise would make a good Reacher, but was forced to say so because Mr. Harvey Jackass Weinstein had Lee over a barrel – Tom Cruise or no movie…

        • Ok well this is most like le a dead form but.that’s not true…Lee Child DID NOT Stop Right there… Your not LEE child 1st. 2nd all your doing is useing Lee To get what your trying to say. The fact is Only Lee would what he really thinks don’t stop using other ppl name to say stuff you you cant back what your saying on your own then don’t say it. the fact is only Lee Knows who he think would fit the part not you not anyone. I think tom did good with this movie. a good pick. And Lee has a lot of money. So if anything he would of just walked away. but no know what he was thinking so don’t use a Righter like <Lee to try to back stuff. YOUR NOT LEE GET THAT. If I was him and i did not like where the movie was going i world of walk away from it.

          • Sorry had to go over i mass up one long posts

            Ok well this is most like le a dead form but.that’s not true…Lee Child DID NOT. Stop Right there… Your not LEE child 1st. 2nd all your doing is using Lee To get what your trying to say to others. The fact is Only Lee would Know what he is really thinks stop using other ppl name to say stuff that you cant back on your own. If you cant back your own Info what every you wont to call it then don’t say it. the fact is only Lee Knows who he thinks would fit the part not you not anyone. I think tom did good with this movie. a good pick. And Lee has a lot of money. So if anything he would of just walked away. but no know what he was thinking so don’t use a Righter like <Lee to try to back stuff. YOUR NOT LEE GET THAT. If I was him and i did not like where the movie was going i world of walk away from it.

    • Jack Reacher is a tall, rugged man. Not a short pretty boy. Does the Director not know anything about this charactor? I wouldn’t go see this movie. Very poorly cast.

  3. Maybe they were being ironic when they cast Cruise, he is a massive ‘Reacher’ and I’m sure he has had lots of embarrassment trying to get that cookie jar down from the top shelf!

  4. I understand that at one point, McQuarrie was hired to write a GREEN HORNET movie. I would love to read his take on the character if anyone has a copy. I think he has an affinity for crime tales and I’d really love to see how that leaked into the GH universe.