Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit producers Mace Neufeld and David Barron are no strangers to producing big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. Neufeld is a veteran producer who has been behind the previous screen adaptations of Tom Clancy’s books, while Barron has produced several Harry Potter movies. The pair met with Screen Rant and other online journalists on the set of the Kenneth Branagh-directed movie to discuss bringing Jack Ryan back to the big screen following a 12-year absence.
How did it come about that Kenneth Branagh would play a role as well as direct, did that happen later on?
David Barron: Truthfully, he always had it in mind. From the moment he joined the film, he always had it in mind, to play that role. The role really appealed to him. He's an actor, he loves acting. He loves directing, but he loves acting too.
I think what he was saying is it's harder doing both.
David Barron: It's harder, it's much harder. Doing either job is hard enough, but doing both together is really very difficult. But he enjoys doing both. And he felt he could play that party very well. And we felt he could play that part very well, so we didn't try to dissuade him.
Mace Neufeld: And we got him at the right price.
Why bring back Jack Ryan now?
Mace Neufeld: Why not?
David Barron: Absolutely why not? It's a very contemporary setting for this story. He's a very contemporary character. You haven't seen him for a while. Whether you know Jack Ryan or you don't know Jack Ryan, he's a compelling person to spend time with.
Mace Neufeld: Well, we have a great script.
David Barron: We do have a great script.
What made you want to restart the franchise rather than continue it on?
Mace Neufeld: I've been trying to restart it for 9 years. With executive changes and having really run out of books that we could do, we finally… what triggered it was getting a green light with Kenneth. Kenneth came in... I had only talked to him years ago when I called him about directing a film, after he'd done that thriller Dead Again… and we had lunch, and he had read the script and liked it, had some suggestions, but more than that, he had gone beyond the call of duty and read every Tom Clancy book. And that's a lot of pages. And he'd seen all the movies, and was totally prepared and very enthusiastic. The idea of shooting it in London came from Kenneth and David. Because we had been planning on either Montreal or Toronto, with some plate units in New York and plate units in Moscow. And when the idea of London came up, we immediately said, "Oh my god, it's so expensive just to take a taxi cab or even have a lunch here." But then David and Kenneth came to Paramount, and they had done a location survey, and a beautiful screen presentation, and a book showing these wonderful Moscow locations all in London.
David Barron: Having said that, we did shoot in Moscow briefly, and in New York, slightly less briefly. There are really distinct flavors of both the cities that the story is set in, to ground it in reality.
Was it always your plan to reset it in contemporary times.
Mace Neufeld: Yes. With the exception of Red October, the first one, all the Clancy movies were set in contemporary times. As you know, this has a release date of next Christmas, but we have a story (which I won't reveal to you) which will not be affected. As a matter of fact, it may be even more contemporary a year from now than it is today.
David Barron: It is. It's a very real, central premise to the story. When you do get to know what that central premise is, when you think back, there's been something in the news quite recently where two international superpowers where somebody contemplated the very thing that's happening in our story. It's very real, very contemporary, and a lot of fun.
You started developing this 9 years ago, how hard has it been to keep it contemporary? Has the idea evolved a lot?
Mace Neufeld: Different ideas.
David Barron: The idea we have now is a further development of the idea that was in place when we became involved. I haven't read all the previous drafts, but you've had many iterations.
Mace Neufeld: We did.
David Barron: Set in many different places, with many different things happening. Some of which have stayed the course, and many others haven’t.
Mace Neufeld: At one point were developing a Jack Ryan with Harrison. Steve Zailian writing on it. We spent a year and half, but we just couldn't nail it. Everybody had to leave to go to work.
DAVID BARRON: Coming from the outside and not being involved in all the other development, having Chris Pine as Jack Ryan really furthered the advance of this particular film, and hopefully others to follow. He's a very strong contemporary hero. He's good clean cut, good looking, the camera likes him, and he's an easy hero to put at the center of a film like this, and hopefully a series of films like this.
MACE NEUFELD: Very good actor. I don't know if you've seen him on stage, but I saw him in The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Farragut North before I'd seen him on screen. He's the real thing, and not hard to look at, as they say.
Can you speak about where this film takes place in relation to the furtherment of the series that you have in mind?
David Barron: We haven't discussed what comes after this yet. Kenneth and I only joined a relatively short time ago and it came to fruition very quickly. Our focus is getting this film to the place it needs to be. Getting it shot and finished and hopefully making a film that will make everyone want us to make more films. But we haven't actually discussed yet how it would develop and where it would go from here, but the scope is enormous.
It's a mistake to think that Chris Pine becomes the Harrison Ford version of Jack Ryan?
David Barron: Chris Pine is Chris Pine's version of Jack Ryan. He's the contemporary Jack Ryan. The new Jack Ryan. And hopefully he'll be Jack Ryan for quite a while to come.
How difficult is it to land someone for a three or four picture contract?
David Barron: It's always challenging. It doesn't matter what the film is and who the cast are, unless they're complete unknowns who feel that it would be such an enormous break that they couldn't possibly say no. It's a challenge, cause nobody knows what the next three, four, five years will bring for them. On the one hand, you definitely want to know you're doing three more, or four more, or two more—whatever it might be—because the continuity is very nice. The security is very nice. The chance to develop a character is very nice. But at the same time there's that sneaking suspicion that you might be tying yourself into a knot that means you're not available for something else that might come along that is suddenly irresistible. It's never easy, but it's always possible.
How was the title Jack Ryan decided upon?
Mace Neufeld: It hasn't been decided upon. We like it.
David Barron: It's punchy and easy to remember. Easy to say, easy to remember. But also this film is not based on a preexisting book. So it's easy to come up with something that's not a book title.