CS Video Interview: Jack Reacher Director Christopher McQuarrie

The star of 17 gritty crime novels, Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher has built quite an avid following for his take-no-prisoners approach to solving crimes and doling out justice. The job of bringing that distinctly original character to the screen fell upon writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, best known as the screenwriter of Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie, although McQuarrie had only directed one previous movie, 2000’s The Way of the Gun.

The first Jack Reacher movie is based on Child’s 2005 novel “One Shot” in which the enigmatic wanderer played by Tom Cruise arrives at a small town (which in the movie is played by Pittsburgh) to investigate the shooting of five seemingly random people that’s been pinned on a former soldier Reacher encountered during his days in the Military Police.

In recent years, McQuarrie has worked extensively with Cruise, whose biggest challenge in playing Child’s larger-than-life character may have been that on the page, Reacher is literally one foot taller than Cruise is in real life. Part of the reason the movie works as well as it does is due to the way McQuarrie has adapted Child’s distinctive writing style to the screen, mixing the tough as nails drama and brutal violence with fast-paced action thrills including one of the best car chases of the year.

ComingSoon.net had a chance to speak with McQuarrie twice over the past weekend with a video interview in two parts, the first part being the more customary junket setting where we asked the filmmaker how he and Tom Cruise got involved with adapting Lee Child’s book, Tom’s process for getting into the role of Jack Reacher, the casting of Werner Herzog as the villain and getting Robert Duvall to play a key role. We also asked the director about the rumors he might direct Cruise in Mission: Impossible 5 to which he told us:

”That is a possibility, yes. We’re in the very early stages of talking about it. I would love to do it. I’m also enormously intimidated by the idea, following Brad Bird and the success of that movie, it’s a big challenge.”

After the break, we have a more extended interview in a more casual setting where we got to talk to McQuarrie more in-depth about the adaptation. We feel that we should give a MILD SPOILER WARNING if you haven’t read Lee Child’s book “One Shot” or want to go into the movie not knowing some of the changes from the book. If that’s the case, then you may want to skip the second half of the interview, but we did talk with McQuarrie about the unfortunate shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last week and the difficulties they now face releasing a movie that centers around a shooting.

In the second part of our interview, we speak with McQuarrie specifically about:

* How and why he decided on some of the changes like revealing the identity of the shooter earlier in the movie than Child’s book, which he compares to how they worked with mystery on the show “Columbo”
* How they tested two very different versions of the film to see which worked best
* How involved Lee Child was with the adaptation and one of the key notes he made
* Balancing the pace of a mystery with action sequences
* The unique way he shot the film’s major car chase
* Putting humor into the film’s brutal fight sequences
* The cancellation of the film’s premiere and whether the fact the movie revolves around a shooting might put people off seeing it after the incident in Newtown, CT, to which he responded:

“I can’t honestly say with the events that happened in Connecticut, I can’t even allow myself to worry about what the consequences are to the movie, only because there are people out there who are suffering far worse consequences from what’s happened. I’m just grateful that I get to go home to my kids at the end of the day. If that has some effect on the movie, I would be a selfish bastard if I were to complain or worry about it. As far as cancelling the premiere, Tom and I both insisted on that. That was something we talked about for a very long time. We wanted to bring the movie to Pittsburgh. We wanted to pay our respects to the city and say thanks to them. At the same time, it just felt that 24 hours after that event, it didn’t feel appropriate for anybody to be celebrating anything. I’m interested to see how the opening of the movie will play in that context but like I said, if that has an effect on our movie, that will be unfortunate, but I can’t complain about it.”

* How the shooting is such a large part of the movie, it couldn’t even be changed as was the case with Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad, which was delayed and had a scene changed after the Aurora shooting
* How Jack Reacher shows that violence has consequences:

”The truth of the matter is movies are a reflection of life and violence is a real part of life. I don’t think you could make movies exclusively where there was no violence. I do believe that there’s a responsibility to depict it and I think we did that in this movie.”

* How he wanted to make sure the audience felt for the victims as real people and in a way that could connect Reacher to them emotionally
* How the above affected his casting of the victims
* Which of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels could potentially be adapted for a sequel or even a third movie

”We’ve definitely talked about it as something we would love to do and talked about what the next movie would be like, which of the Reacher novels or more importantly, what’s the terrain of the next movie. If this one started in Pittsburgh and you’re going to make two of these movies and if you make two, let’s assume you’re making three. Where do you want to go next? There’s one that takes place in London and New York and I feel if you did that next, you’d have to nowhere to go after that. So in terms of its terrain, there are a few of the books that go more rural like ‘The Killing Floor’ which takes place in a smaller Georgia town, some of the later books that take place in the Badlands and out in the Midwest. I feel that’s more interesting for the second movie. Then for a third movie, you can really blow it wide open.”

And more!

Jack Reacher opens nationwide on Friday, December 21. Look for our video interview with Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo sometime before then.

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