Reacher is back! Tom Cruise reprises his role as Jack Reacher on the big screen in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The film, which hits theaters on October 21, 2016, sees Cruise re-teaming with director Ed Zwick and novelist Lee Child for this chapter. It has been more than a decade since Cruise has worked with Zwick; the two collaborated on 2003’s The Last Samurai. Likewise it’s been some time since Cruise stepped into the role of Child’s Reacher.
In this latest installment, the audience is taken on a journey with Reacher that is not only lighter in tone, but quite humorous. To recap, Reacher begins a flirtatious relationship with Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), but when he comes to see her, he is swept up in a government conspiracy and forced to find the truth in order to clear his name. He eventually finds himself in a dysfunctional and often funny family unit with Turner and a young troubled teen, Samantha (Danika Yarosh). We sat down with Zwick and Child to talk about the movie’s plot, its characters, the humor and action in the film, reuniting with Cruise and most importantly what the hell is Reacher eating in all those damn diner scenes?
Starting with book 18 for this story, what made you jump ahead as far as the books and bringing this story to the big screen?
Ed Zwick: I will say the great thing about the books is that they are not chronological. They exist as this intrinsic thing and each one can be taken has its own piece. So, we just like this one.
There is kind of an evolution, where he is more– the tone of the film compared to the first one, it’s a lot more lighthearted and there is this like family dynamic as well?
Lee Child: Yeah, it’s the way that I wrote the book, was these were three alpha characters, who are used to being their own boss, never used to following anybody else’s orders, but they are thrown together and they gotta work it out and that produced a dynamic that I really liked. And yeah some humor because you have these three, even the kid is a street wise kid, who is thoroughly her own boss and used to coping by herself and they got to be a family and even Ed gave them a minivan (laughter). The first vehicle that they steal to get around is a minivan. So it’s this little family in a minivan, which is inherently comic. You know, they’re three Desperados.
Ed Zwick: I maintain that no movie can be funny enough. I mean even the most serious, even the most intense movie and I know enough about life to know in those dark moments inevitably someone will say something funny and I will be part of the whole experience.
The idea of making Samantha’s character a lot bigger then she is in the book, what was the idea behind that?
Ed Zwick: I just feel like sometimes when I’m adapting a book, I just try to understand what his intention was and Lee’s intention was to say for Jack Reacher, a man who is utterly disconnected, to confront the possibility of totally being connected and possibly for his whole life is such a significant moment that I just wanted to take it further. I said okay what if we just bring her deeper and… [made] her even more deeply in the plot. It will only make that situation better.
Reuniting with Tom because you have both worked with him before. What was it like this go around because it’s very familiar territory, no?
Ed Zwick: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a prize when actors and directors or writers and actors work together more than once. You have a trust and a shorthand and a lot of times you even reach the point, where in the process, you don’t even have to talk. He’ll finish it take and I’ll start to step out from behind the camera and he’ll go “yeah, yeah, yeah, I know” and that’s when it’s best.
Lee Child: From my point of view, what people see of Tom on the screen of course is the movie star, the actor, but actually in real life he’s a real gentleman. I hadn’t seen him for a couple years and I usually bring my daughter to these things because she loves the movies and he totally remembered who she was— picked up the conversation as if it had been yesterday. I mean this is a really nice guy.
And you have a cameo in the film too?
Lee Child: I do, which again was Tom’s idea. You know, as a storyteller, he saw a kind of symbolism in having the book author interact with the film actor and the scene is very significant on that level. It’s like me saying “okay, here you go. Here’s the character enjoy the trip.”
Ed Zwick: It’s like every small actor, they decide their scene this is the most significant in the movie (laughter). Yes, this is a movie about this TSA guy.
Lee Child: Yeah, exactly, which is a line from one of your movies.
Really quickly, Tom spends so much time in the diner, what is he eating in the diner because we kind of never get to see that other than coffee?
Lee Child: The standard Reacher meal in a diner is pancakes, bacon and eggs all slathered in maple syrup with lots and lots of coffee.