Tom Cruise playing the “Jack Reacher” character infuriated many devoted readers of the book series. I know about this mostly based on what I’ve read about the controversy. Also my wife loves those novels, and she explained why he wouldn’t have been her “first choice” for “Reacher” when she’d read initially that it was to be Mr. Cruise in the role.
The biggest (no pun intended) complaint regularly seen is that the relatively diminutive real-life Mr. Cruise in no way resembles “Reacher.” The character is apparently nearly 7 ft tall and consists of pure muscle. Some on “social media” were quick to point that out:
Yet in fairness to any filmmaker, casting a “superman” is always a challenge. When a fictional character is outlandish, trying to locate a human actor who largely resembles him/her on the pages, let alone one who can also ACT well enough, is naturally not easy. Making that task even tougher is when it’s also supposed to be the STAR of the potential film, for it’s then suddenly necessary also to try to find one from among a very small pool of actor possibilities who will hopefully also FILL cinemas.
The combination of casting forces pulling him/her in every direction must be almost enough to drive many a filmmaker to drink.
“Hollywood” films are now also increasingly global too, of course, and an increasingly sensitive arena of late has become national origin and ethnicity. Actors, we are told, should be far-better matched to the characters they play – particularly if characters were ever real people. That is certainly not an unreasonable aim:
Interestingly the “diversity” issue is merely an extension of the “Reacher” issue. Leonardo DiCaprio is a worldwide superstar as well as probably the greatest and most “bankable” Hollywood actor of his generation. The Rumi filmmakers aren’t making a documentary for the History Channel. Much as Tom Cruise as “Jack Reacher” guarantees an immediate, huge audience for the films that an unknown, 7 ft tall guy who can’t act would not, DiCaprio in a lead virtually assures any film massive media attention, a gigantic global cinema audience, and a slew of awards, awards, awards.
The “bankable” star also greatly lessens the risk any film will be a financial flop. Being creative is wonderful, however few filmmakers – and their backers and/or studios – wish possibly to go broke in the process. The bottom line for filmmakers is always bums in cinema seats and subsequent other sales.
What does all that mean for a novelist? Thank goodness, it’s not our problem. If we are ever lucky enough to be a source for a film, it’s the filmmaker’s problem….
“Robert, she’ll do it. You’re lucky she’s available.”
“She’s great, but is she tall enough?” I question meekly.
“She’s moving into big star territory over there now. She’s gonna be huge in the States eventually.”
“And this other one is from Argentina? Okay, you’re the filmmaker,” I shrug. “I’m just some guy who writes novels.”
“Oh, and I’ve saved the best for last. It’s Tom Cruise for sure. The amount is right, uh, there, on the fourth line down…”
[MY EYES POP OUT OF MY HEAD AT THE ASTRONOMICAL FIGURE.] “Tom Cruise! Absolutely! He’s perfect! Exactly who I had in mind! I sign at the bottom here, yes?” 😉