Famously, “Reacher said nothing” – but his fans have said quite a lot about the casting of Lee Child’s hero Jack Reacher over the years, especially when men who are smaller than your average mountain range were considered for the role. That may be all set to change with Amazon’s new TV adaptation Reacher, with Alan Ritchson coming very close indeed to the stature of Jack Reacher himself, the hulking ex-military drifter described in the bestselling books. And as he told Empire recently, he bulked up even more to fit Reacher’s army surplus clothing.

“Barefoot I’m six-three-and-a-half…ish,” he laughs. “When I put boots on I’m six-five. And we decided we’re gonna come in at 235[lbs]. I walk around at 205, so I wanted to put on some weight. And it shows on screen. I look like an ox. Also, casting nobody over three feet helps. We have to get children as supporting cast.”

Reacher – exclusive

Lax child labour laws may help Ritchson tower over the rest of the cast, but it will take more than that to bring this Reacher to the screen. This eight-episode season is set to adapt The Killing Floor, the very first Reacher book published and one that sees the former military policeman arrested for a murder he didn’t commit. Like Michael Jordan, he takes that personally, and soon the criminal conspiracy really responsible is in for a very bad time, because Reacher is their worst nightmare. “He’s an asshole!” says Ritchson. “He’s smart enough to make somebody feel very small, not because of his size but because of his intelligence. He’s a funny guy, in a very dry way. That was one of the most important things for us.”

That’s not to say, however, that he’s all quips, all the time; that wouldn’t be true to form. But TV means that we need to know a little bit of what he’s thinking – so, this screen Reacher isn’t quite saying nothing. “On the one hand, we want to honour the way Reacher is stoic, but also we need that information. There are lots of moments where he’s offering up what’s going on in his head. It’s necessary in this medium.”

Empire – February 2022 – The Batman covers

Reacher premieres on Prime Video on February 4. In the meantime, for more from Ritchson and more about Reacher, pick up the new issue of Empire, on sale on Thursday December 23 – or pre-order a copy online here.

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