Director Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens January 17th. Based on the Tom Clancy character, the original story follows Jack Ryan (played by Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. Starring alongside Pine is Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley with Branagh as the film’s antagonist.
When the production was filming in London in October of 2012, I got to visit the set along with a few other reporters. While there, we spoke to the cast, Branagh, and producers David Barron, Mace Neufeld, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. While everyone was careful not to reveal the twists and turns, I was still able to learn a lot about the movie and how the project came together. Hit the jump for my five major takeaways from the set visit, forty things to know, and a video blog recap.
Further down the page are the lists.
5 Major Takeaways from the Jack Ryan Set Visit:
- Unlike many conventional action stars (Bourne, Bond, etc), Jack Ryan is more of a relatable, everyman action hero who relies on his intelligence and his strong moral compass to solve problems.
- Set in a post-9/11 era of economic turmoil, this film should feel very contemporary and relevant to modern audiences.
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an origin story, and so audiences who are unfamiliar with Jack Ryan could also watch it and find it accessible and entertaining.
- Kenneth Branagh provided the green light from the studios and the impetus for making this film.
- Most of the cast and crew read through all of Tom Clancy’s novels on Jack Ryan prior to making this film, so you can expect that it will be loyal to Clancy’s body of work.
40 Things to Know From Our Jack Ryan Set Visit:
- Pine says the biggest challenge of his role is making Jack Ryan an exciting character because unlike a Jason Bourne or James Bond, his mind is his greatest weapon.
- Commenting on his “everyman” character, he said: “His weapon is his brain. He thinks and moves with his mind faster than other people.”
- According to Pine, Kenneth Branagh is an actor-focused director, so he isn’t afraid to put an emphasis on the actors and talk with them on set.
- The film is rooted in Jack Ryan’s post-war stress, and the United States in a post-9/11 era.
- Pine broke his finger on the set when trying to tackle a character on the set.
- On Kevin Costner, Pine said: “Here’s a guy who was the top movie star in the world for a long time and he’s got great advice. I love watching him in a close-up. For someone who’s done it for so long, there’s just such a comfort in the knowledge of what he’s able to do and how to do it and how to sell a moment and just a comfort in front of the camera.”
- On the genre of the film, Pine says: “it’s a plot thriller. It’s building up tension piece-by-piece and moment-by-moment.”
- Neufeld has been trying to reboot the franchise since The Sum of All Fears, and he said that Branagh’s interest in directing the film got the film a green light.
- Kenneth Branagh read every Tom Clancy book on Jack Ryan and saw all of the films as part of preparation for the film.
- Haris Zambarloukos, the Director of Photography, is a huge fan of film, so the movie is shot in about an 80 to 20 ratio of film to digital.
- The digital filming is being shot with Red.
- When Tom Clancy wrote The Hunt for Red October, he was only a part-time author, and he was running a successful insurance business.
- Neufeld originally gave Kevin Costner the chance to play Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, but he opted to do his own film, Dances with Wolves instead.
- On star Chris Pine, Barron said: “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.”
- Branagh jokes and promises that, unlike his previous film Thor, there will be no Dutch camera angles in this film.
- Said that this film had the feel of a quality ‘70s espionage thriller like All the President’s Men and Parallax View.
- On Jack Ryan as a character, Branagh said: “Jack Ryan is the brightest and the best, he’s sort of an analyst with the great skillful, intellectual mind. He’s also in relative terms, he’s kind of an everyman.”
- Branagh believes that a subtitle for the film is the thematic notion of what it takes to be a patriot, and the grey area that can often exist between love of country and nationalism.
- He also believes that his character, Cherevin, is complex, and can be sympathized with provided the audience member is viewing the film conscientiously.
- Some of the film was shot in Liverpool, because it used to be a major trade hub, and it had some of the imperial look Branagh was looking for.
- They did some of their shooting in London for “big city DNA and architecture,” and to get some imperial architecture in the film that doesn’t exist in Moscow anymore.
- Costner has always wanted to work with Kenneth Branagh.
- Says he was offered a lot of money to do The Hunt for Red October in the 1980s, but he’d already put everything together to start Dances with Wolves.
- He didn’t read any Clancy books to prepare for the film. He just read the script.
- Costner says he wants to direct more, and he wants to “make more cowboy movies.” He hopes to do more of that this summer, now that Man of Steel and Hatfields and McCoys have come out.
- Although he prefers playing leading actors, Costner doesn’t mind being supporting characters, and he doesn’t feel it “diminishes” him as an actor.
- Costner on story and film says: “A great story doesn’t make a great movie. A great script, which defines its moments and characters can become a great movie.”
- Costner says that British actors are very disciplined and understand the idea of really rehearsing for a part.
- Most of the film has been shot in London. Only a minimal amount has been shot in New York.
- Reemphasizes that it is not easy to play a simple character that leads a film like Pine is doing with this film.
- Di Bonaventura says that, after all of the great films Mace Neufeld has done in this series so far, one of the biggest challenges is not screwing that up.
- Says that Branagh combines his acting experience with his big-arena directing experience from films like Thor to make this film a big action thriller with a strong emotional connection between Jack and his fiancée (played by Knightley).
- Jack Ryan is an origin story.
- Di Bonaventura thinks that Jack Ryan is iconic because he’s an everyman character. He does have an extraordinary education, but, he added, “when you’re watching a Jack Ryan film, you feel like you could be in the same place. And you’re hoping you’d do the same thing.”
- Says they read all of Clancy’s books, gleaned all of Ryan’s backstory, and put all of it in the film, so he’s not worried about it not being a direct novel adaptation.
- Thinks that audiences who don’t know Jack Ryan could watch this film and come to know and like the character.
- Di Bonaventura says that Jack Ryan may be the first true post-9/11 spy thriller, because the events of 9/11 so strongly influence the film’s world. Jack’s character enters military service because of 9/11.
- Says Branagh’s villain character is “the flipside of Jack,” and “misguided, but not pure evil.” His character has been through similar experiences to Ryan’s, and arrived at different views of nationalism, etc.
- The film was meant to originally take place in Dubai, but eventually they changed their minds and made it Moscow.
For more from my Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit set visit:
- 40 Things to Know About JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT From Our Set Visit; Plus Video Blog Recap
- Chris Pine Talks Drawing from the Previous Films, Working with Kenneth Branagh, and More on the Set of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
- Kevin Costner Talks Turning Down HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, His Career and Directorial Process, TV, and More on the Set of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
- Director Kenneth Branagh Talks Setting the Film Apart from Other Action-Thrillers, Playing the Villain, and More on the Set of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
- Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura Talks the Challenge of Rebooting the Franchise, Casting Chris Pine, and More on the Set of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
- Producers David Barron and Mace Neufeld Talk Rebooting the Franchise, Casting Chris Pine, and More on the Set of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT