George Clooney as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan?

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This is what I get for skimming. First thing this morning I looked over the first page of Kim Masters’ story at The Daily Beast about George Clooney‘s production company moving to Sony, but I didn’t read the whole thing. And Anne Thompson noticed, on the second page, an assertion that Clooney is interested in helping Paramount revive the Jack Ryan character seen in The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears. This is just the latest Ryan revival rumor to hit the web in the last couple years, but I’ll admit: it’s one of the better ones.

Specifically, Masters writes this: “A source says he expressed interest in playing Jack Ryan when and if Paramount attempts to revive the Tom Clancy series.” OK, so that’s not much. It’s very thin. But Clooney has the gravitas, the vulnerability and the muscle to play Ryan in any of his incarnations, whether true to the novels or three different film portrayals.

Three actors have played Ryan so far: Alec Baldwin (Red October); Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger); and Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears). Though Patriot Games is a solid action movie, Baldwin’s version remains my favorite. He’s closest to the source, too. On paper the character has had severe back problems, which cut short his military career, and is a financially savvy analyst and historian. In short, he’s more of an egghead in the novels than on screen, where he became more of an action star over the course of four movies.

Last year, reports surfaced that Ryan Gosling might topline a revival of the character for Paramount, and Sam Raimi was in negotiations to direct the new film and a possible string of sequels. (There was also a rumor that James Franco was being eyed as a possible Ryan.) Given his involvement with Spider-Man 4 at this point, a Raimi Jack Ryan film isn’t going to happen any time soon. Whenever Paramount gets someone to push the movie forward, it will be the second ‘official’ reboot of the character, as Ben Affleck’s outing was reboot number one.

So: discuss. Is George Clooney the man to fill Jack Ryan’s shoes, or did he get his shot long ago in The Peacemaker? (Not a Jack Ryan story, but close enough.)

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