Reacher Star Alan Ritchson On Prepping For All Those Fight Scenes, His Favorite One-Liner, And More [Interview]

"Reacher" is getting a small screen adaptation, and the eponymous main character that's at the center of author Lee Child's popular book series is being played by "Titans" alum Alan Ritchson, who's markedly different than the Reacher played by Tom Cruise in the film adaptation.

/Film had the chance to talk with Ritchson about taking on the Reacher mantle. Read on for that discussion, in which he shares his favorite Reacher one-liner, how he prepared for the show's intense fight scenes, and how his friend convinced him to try out for the role.

"He just embodies a lot of really fun qualities"

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

I know your audition process was long and you really fought for it. What about the part made you really excited about the role and made you work for it so hard?

What ignited my excitement was one of my best friends, Burns Burns — he's a production designer, he's in the business, but he's also a reader, he is the kind of guy that reads 150 books a year — he's read all the "Reacher" books. I said, "I got a call, they want me to put together a tape for 'Reacher,'" he flipped out. He's like, "You're the guy, you got to do this. You put everything you got into this one. You're going to be the guy." And I was like, oh man, if he feels that way, maybe there's something to this.

I picked up the books and I got it instantly. I understand, even just after reading "Killing Floor," the first book in this series, why this crosses so many international borders, why this is such a beloved character by so many millions of fans around the world. He just embodies a lot of really fun qualities. As an actor, to be able to bring to life somebody who is both mysterious and stoic, but funny and a wiseass, and physically imposing and has a propensity to violence, is capable, confident — what's not to love? And the scope of this project and its reach is not lost on me. It's something I'm honored and grateful to play.

"This was a character that I just needed to get out of the way of. There's so much source material here"

You have a military background and you grew up on military bases, similar to Reacher. Did any of that inform how you portrayed the character?

Sure. I don't have any questions about what life is like on military bases or when you move around a lot. Watching the flashbacks where we get to explore Reacher's childhood on a base in Okinawa, it hit close to home because I used to be the new kid. I'd move around a lot, a new base every couple of years. I get what that life does to you. It has its pros and cons, but one thing I really took away and wanted to infuse into Reacher was the confidence and formality and discipline that military life instills in its service members. My dad, he carried himself in a way that you don't see anywhere else but in the military. His posture, the way that he'd shake somebody's hand and look you in the eye, it's something I easily carry into the "Reacher" world.

What other things did you draw on or inspire you when you're trying to portray Reacher on screen?

There are some actors out there that very famously draw on animals, like what's the physicality, how would that make this character move? I've heard it all. This was a character that I just needed to get out of the way of. There's so much source material here. Everybody's got their idea of Reacher, but I think we all understand who he is on some level, and I just wanted to breathe life into that. I try not to look to anybody else, to the "Reacher" franchise in the past or any other actors or characters. It was just about absorbing that material. I read all 24 books before we shot a frame of this, and fell in love with what Lee Child has done. I just wanted to focus on the ink on the page.

"I was just learning fights in a parking lot"

Throughout the season you have a lot of fight scenes that I'm sure took a lot of prep. What was the scene or sequence that you had to prepare for the most?

Yes, all the fights, I feel like there was never enough time. Those were tricky, and I really wanted to get them right. 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 "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. And then, as we were in production, my availability just shrank, and I had less and less time for each fight.

By the time we got to the end of the season, I was just learning fights in a parking lot, wherever we were shooting at the time, trying to get it ready for the next day. I don't think that shows, the time constraints, but we had the most time in the beginning, and I think getting that kind of fighting style in the body, it was warranted.

"I hope at some point we get to do 'Die Trying.'"

You mentioned you read all 24 of the books. Are there any you would love to portray on screen?

Most of them, I would say. Not every "Reacher" book would translate well to screen, I think, but there's only a few. The rest of them, I desperately want to make. "Killing Floor" I loved, and I understood right away why this is done so well. "Die Trying," the second book I picked up, was full of so many of the attributes that I think both translate well to film and that I would just have a lot of fun bringing to life. I hope at some point we get to do "Die Trying."

One of the things I really loved about the show was Reacher's one-liners. Do you have a personal favorite line that he says that you particularly enjoyed saying?

It was, "No." I thoroughly enjoy how brutally honest he is, and every time he says "no," I get a kick out of it.

The "Reacher" series premieres on Prime Video on February 4, 2022.