When author Tom Clancy first introduced the Jack Ryan character in his 1984 novel The Hunt for Red October, there’s no way he knew this one CIA analyst would become a stalwart of cinema for decades to come, with no less than four different actors filling the role in a variety of films. And while Chris Pine and Paramount attempted a big screen reboot for the character with 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, now a wholly different approach is taking shape on the small screen with yet another Jack Ryan: John Krasinski.
The Office veteran showed off his action hero skills in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Bengazi, which led to him being cast as the new Jack Ryan in a TV series iteration of the character for Amazon and executive producer Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel, The Strain), who’s serving as showrunner. In addition to starring in the series, Krasinski is serving as a producer, and Amazon recently ordered the show to series with a 10-episode first season in the works.
This week I had the chance to speak with Krasinski in anticipation of his new directorial effort, the warm and delightful family drama The Hollars (opening in limited release this Friday—see it!), and during the course of our conversation we also discussed what fans can expect from Jack Ryan.
We spoke about how much the TV landscape has changed just in the short amount of time since The Office has been off the air, and Krasinski revealed that they’re approaching Jack Ryan as a 10-hour movie in every way:
“We’re doing 10 episodes and I think the interesting part about it is exactly what you said, everything’s changed so much; the line between film and TV has blurred so much over the years, I think Jack Ryan is a product of that blurring so much that I think that they’re not even really considering it a TV show, they’re calling it a movie that’s being told in 10 parts; and that’s not just an argument of semantics, it’s actually true. Carlton Cuse’s whole plan is we’re gonna shoot it on a movie budget, we’re gonna have the same stunts as movies, it’s gonna feel like a movie but you’re gonna watch it every week. His whole idea was he just felt that two hours wasn’t enough time to tell a Jack Ryan story because Tom Clancy’s books are so detailed and rich, and the character of Jack Ryan if he has a superpower is his intelligence, so there’s a lot of problem solving and things that take time, and that’s the beauty of the spy genre. That’s what I found was the best pitch to me is it’s really just what’s the best format to tell this story?”
There are still a number of Clancy novels that have yet to be mined for the big screen, but Krasinski said their approach for Jack Ryan is to have the character tackle modern, real-world issues. First up? ISIS:
“Every year they’re gonna be different. They’re sort of more ripped-from-the-headlines type stuff, so the first year the villain or I don’t know what you want to call it is it’s taking on ISIS for sure.”
Krasinski revealed that they’re currently aiming for a January production start date, with various locations around the globe, and given that he’s now directed two feature films and a handful of episodes of The Office, I asked if he’d be directing any of Jack Ryan:
“At some point I would. I don’t know if I’ll do it the first season, I think I’m gonna let them—all of us need to sort of figure out what show we’re telling, and we’re gonna have such great people involved and I’m so lucky that they made me one of the producers of the show, so I’m gonna be busy doing that.”
Finally, we’ve now seen Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine fill the Jack Ryan role. Who’s Krasinski’s favorite?
“You know what’s funny is I think they’re all so different, but the old adage you always remember your first, there’s something about that Alec Baldwin one in Hunt for Red October that I always loved.”
There’s no release date just yet for Jack Ryan, and a series of this scale will no doubt take a while to shoot, but it certainly sounds like an exciting and promising take on the material that’ll offer up a very different kind of spy story for the TV landscape. Look for my full interview with Krasinski later this week.