On October 25th 2012 I found myself sitting in The White Horse pub watching a monitor showing Chris Pine run through the misty rain into a financial building. While the sequence in Jack Ryan is supposed to take place in the brand-new financial center in Moscow, Russia (a clue to the film’s antagonist) it was being filmed in Liverpool, England.

Producers have been trying to restart the franchise, based on the character novelist Tom Clancy created in books like The Hunt For Red October and Patriot Games, for nine years. Taking a cue from the recent James Bond films, Jack Ryan is an origin story — a pre-boot set in the now. 9/11 has taken place, and is a huge motivator for our hero. The following is the beginning of what I learned about the film from co-star Kevin Costner and director Kenneth Branagh, fresh from Thor.

Kevin Costner was originally offered the Jack Ryan role in the late ’80s but had to decline to direct his dream project. Usually turning down a lead role which evolves into a book/film franchise would be an epic failure, but Costner has no regrets. His dream project did pretty well: Dances with Wolves won 7 of its 12 Academy Award nominations and was a resounding financial success. This time around Costner is joining the franchise as Ryan’s mentor William Harper, a legendary CIA Field Agent who is expected to get his own spin-off film series.

Set visit “preview” pieces are kind of strange, because I’m not really allowed to write about anything I saw, heard or learned in any substantial detail. I really wish I could publish our roundtable interview with Costner. I’ve never been a huge fan of Costner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed his films. But the interview he gave us on set might be the best set interview I’ve ever been involved in. Costner went into detail on his theories as an actor, storyteller, and filmmaker. Sitting in the room, listening to these ideas and stories, it was clear why Costner has had the career that he has. Its not because he has blond hair and blue eyes; this is a very smart man.

Thor director Kenneth Branagh was sent the script and knew instantly that he had to make it because it was set in the world of the 1970′s films he loves, such as All The Presidents Men. Branagh did his research, not only revisiting the previous Jack Ryan films but reading all of the books. Kenneth thinks that Jack Ryan will stand out amongst other recent spy franchises because his hero doesn’t have the high technology of the Mission: Impossible series, he’s not a paid assassin like the Bourne films, he lacks the elegance of Bond — he’s more of an everyman and there is more of a personal story at the center of it all.

And best yet, without a table surrounded by geeks asking, Branagh promises Jack Ryan won’t have any of Thor‘s dutch angles.

After returning to the hotel from set, I recorded the following short set visit preview video blog with Frosty from Collider:

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