Months Of Preparation Went Into Reacher Season 1's Prison Fight [Exclusive]

We can pretend that we enjoy the subtleties of Jack Reacher all we want. How did the horrors he witnessed during his time in the army shape him? How was this famously taciturn hulk of a man brought up? But what we really want to see from Jack Reacher is wave after wave of bad guys getting mercilessly pummeled.

Author Lee Child took a maximalist approach to creating the character, envisioning him as a 6 foot 5 brute, capable of taking on multiple assailants without breaking a sweat; A muscled-up John Wick type whose imposing size is matched only by his pre-eminent combat skills. Which is part of the reason fans got so upset when Tom Cruise was cast in the film adaptations of Child's books.

Luckily, with Amazon Prime Video's record-breaking "Reacher" series, those fans were finally gifted a book-accurate version of the eponymous hero in the form of 6 foot 3 "Titans" star Alan Ritchson. The bulky actor certainly looked the part, and when he was initially cast it looked as though fans had finally got their way. But that still left Ritchson with the task of convincingly demonstrating those deadly fight skills — something which he did promptly in the series' pilot.

In the very first episode, having been wrongfully arrested for murder, Reacher is thrown into the general population at the town of Margrave's prison and almost immediately finds himself at the center of some major trouble. This is Jack Reacher, after all. Having defended his cell-mate from a particularly malicious inmate, the temporarily incarcerated Reacher has a target on his back — the perfect excuse for an all out bloodbath to introduce the man's god-level fighting abilities. This was the moment audiences would see what the new Reacher was made of. Thankfully, Ritchson had months to prepare.

Ritchson put months into his prison fight

In the very first episode of "Reacher," after protecting his cellmate, the former soldier takes on a whole prison gang of five, who accost him in the bathroom in what is one of the season's best fight scenes. And it turns out there's a reason it's so memorable: Alan Ritchson had months to prepare for it. Speaking to /Film, the actor revealed that as filming went on, he had less and less time to learn the choreography and prepare for each fight scene. But in the case of the prison gang beatdown, he couldn't have been more ready:

"By virtue of the fact that we were in prep, I think I had the most time to invest in the prison fight, which is in the pilot and is a renowned fight in [the novel] 'Killing Floor' for readers. I wanted to get that right, and it took a lot of effort and we got it to the point where we could shoot it over and over again in one take. That was cool, but it took months."

Over the course of shooting, Ritchson found he has less and less time to learn choreography and was, by the end of production, "learning fights in a parking lot, wherever we were shooting at the time, trying to get it ready for the next day." Not that it shows. The fights in Reacher are all similarly brutal and it's certainly not obvious that Ritchson ran out of time towards the end of the season. And if he'd been repeatedly running the choreography for the all-important prison brawl, he was likely well prepared for everything that followed.

Reacher season 2 should ramp things up

Ritchson seemingly performed the prison gang fight without the help of a stunt double. In fact, the whole thing was designed for him to always be clearly on-screen, in order to make the actor appear more believably badass. It sounds very similar to what "John Wick" director Chad Stahelski did with Keanu Reeves when designing that franchise's gun-fu action — shooting in long takes to show off that it's actually the star himself doing the fighting.

And if you've got an actor that can pull off the action as convincingly as Reeves or Ritchson, why not do it that way? There's no doubt the action is what draws people to Reacher. The whole series is a bit of absurd, pulpy good fun and the fight scenes, savage though they may be, are no exception.

And you can expect those fight scenes to get even more brutal in "Reacher" season 2, as Ritchson's bruiser is set to hunt down whoever dared to start going after his former military unit. We're expecting a similarly brutal brawl in the inaugural episode of the next season to once again remind us all who we're dealing with. Although, if the video Ritchson posted on the last day of filming is anything to go by, it looks like his character will be facing an even tougher battle in the season finale.

Either way, let's hope Ritchson was given a little more time to prepare throughout the next run of episodes. Not that it would show if he didn't, but learning the choreography for such high-intensity fights the day before can't be all that fun or easy. Still, if there's anyone who can do it, it's Jack Reacher.