Entertainment Books ‘Not ugly and not big’: Why Tom Cruise was dumped from his hottest role

‘Not ugly and not big’: Why Tom Cruise was dumped from his hottest role

tom cruise jack reacher
Tom Cruise in the title role in 2016's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Photo: IMDB
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Hollywood star Tom Cruise is not big enough or ugly enough to play fictional hard man Jack Reacher, according to best-selling author Lee Child.

Cruise has been dumped from the role he has played twice on the big screen – and it’s all down to reader pressure, Child said.

He told the ABC on Monday that readers of his long-running and popular Jack Reacher series had never got over the fact that Cruise did not fit the physical profile of his hero in the two films.

“They’ve had enough of Tom Cruise and that’s fair enough,” he said.

“Jack Reacher is like a lock forward from some rugby team. A big, ugly guy … Tom is not ugly and he’s not big.”

Child spoke to the ABC from Sydney, where he was to be one of the star attractions at the literary festival on Monday.

Reacher, the star of Child’s best-selling 23-book series, is described as nearly two metres tall and weighing up to 113 kilograms. Said to have “hands the size of dinner plates”, he is a former US Army Major who investigates suspicious cases and dishes out vigilante justice.

By contrast, Cruise is 1.7 metres tall and weighs about 67 kilograms.

“The idea is that when Reacher walks into a room, you’re all a little nervous just for that first minute,” Child told the BBC. “Cruise, for all his talent, didn’t have that physicality.”

Cruise has played Reacher twice on the big screen – Jack Reacher (2012) and 2016’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Despite criticism from readers, the movies have been box office hits, raking in a combined $US380 million ($A519 million).

The British author said reader feedback prompted the change – tens of thousands of fans apparently complained about the casting.

In addition, Reacher’s story will now be turned into a TV series.

“We’re going to take it to binge-watching-type television with a completely different actor,” Child said.

“We’re kind of rebooting it with the hope that we get something closer to what the readers really want.”

Child has just released his latest title in the series. He told the ABC that he could always keep the film and books separate. But he understood that some fans didn’t see it that way.

“My head is in the book so much that the movie can’t possibly have an influence on it. It doesn’t damage it in any way,” he said.

The hunt is on for a suitable actor to take on the Jack Reacher role for the TV series. Child said he would like to see a relatively unknown actor chosen.

“Actors are good looking and I see Reacher as a kind, battered, rather plain guy,” he told the ABC.

“We’re going to have to find a very difficult thing, which is a huge actor and an ugly actor. And there aren’t that many of them.”

-with agencies