Chris Pine has some serious shoes to fill stepping into those once filled by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck when he agreed to do Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. But, then again, Pine is no stranger to taking on iconic roles. Just look at what he did with the part of Captain Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.
“I think that the great thing about the Jack Ryan films is that the plot and the story kind of always take center stage and I think if you’ve done your job as the actor portraying Jack Ryan, you are present enough to make an impact, but you kind of let the story shine, and we had a great story that David Koepp came up with,” Pine told Movie Fanatic. “Shatner made such a deep impression and on the Zeitgeist that it’s a different thing entirely.”
One thing he discovered on the Star Trek movies is that Pine appreciates the chance to do his own action scenes. That came in handy with the many action sequences in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. “I did plenty of my own stunts. I enjoyed doing them and I think most actors do. You get to live out boyhood fantasies,” Pine said and laughed.
However, one scene, teased in the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit trailer, had Pine thinking whether he would do that sort of thing in the future. “I was on a very large motorcycle for a lot of the time, which I’m not sure I would probably do again without a helmet on the streets of New York!”
Sure, racing through the streets of Manhattan on a motorcycle is exciting, but there was the scene that Paramount released, the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit four-minute clip, that had Pine most excited. And it took place on the first day of shooting.
“The most fun I had and one of the best moments in the film is the scene that I have with the security guy in the bathroom when I first arrive in Russia. I like the hand-to-hand combat stuff and I didn’t get to do much of it in the last Star Trek,” Pine said.
The star makes a point that basically explains why audiences love the Jack Ryan character so much, and have for three decades.
“I like the fact that Jack, as much as he had training in the Marines, isn’t a trained killing professional, and so it was kind of a MacGyver moment of trying to figure out how to defeat the large bad guy when you’re not quite as big and not quite as ferocious or talented with your fists.”
That average guy feel to the Ryan character that audiences have been drawn to since he was first introduced on the pages of a Tom Clancy book, was also felt in the wardrobe for Pine, although when he first saw what he was supposed to wear on screen, he had to speak up.
“In the beginning there was a big discussion about the suits or the wardrobe. Our costume designer brought in all these beautiful Ralph Lauren suits and very kind of banker suits that looked awesome, and they were sharp as a tack. But the image I kept on going back to was Harrison Ford in his tweed jacket and his misshapen tie and I thought that that, to me, was the character,” Pine said. “You didn’t care about suits. You didn’t care about fancy watches. He had a $10 haircut. He was the odd man out.”
In the rebooting of the Ryan character, he is a product of the post-9/11 world. As the film begins, he is a student in England when the Twin Towers fall. He enlists to fight in Afghanistan and returns home after a helicopter crash makes it seem there is a good chance he may never walk again. It is there that he meets Keira Knightley’s character, and as the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit international trailer shows, they fall in love. It is also about this time that Kevin Costner’s character finds him and recruits him into the CIA for his intelligence, and not necessarily his might.
“He’s something different. He wasn’t Jason Bourne with all of his sexy kind of kung-fu tricks. He wasn’t James Bond with his great suits and his Aston Martin and a bevy of beautiful women. He’s a man whose virtues lay in a different ballpark and they were something much simpler,” Pine said. “You could pass him in the street and really not think twice or look back. He just so happens to be the man that’s saving the world.”
Pine has always been a fan of the series, from the first books. So, this role is in many ways even more of a dream come true than playing Captain Kirk in Star Trek. “I’ve always loved the series. I was well-versed with the Clancy universe,” Pine said. He found his Jack Ryan as something of a meld between Ford and Baldwin’s portrayal.
“I think what I most enjoyed was the difference that I saw in how Alec portrayed the character and how Harrison portrayed the character. With Alec in Hunt you have this confident, intelligent, analytical man who knows what he knows and is not afraid to say it. With Harrison, he’s the humble intellect and he’s what Harrison does best, the classic reluctant hero. And I thought somewhere in that was kind of a great way to begin looking at the character.”
So, will there be more Pine as Ryan? “I would love to do it again,” Pine admitted. “I think what a really interesting time for a spy franchise in 2014. We’ve seen it obviously done in the Cold War in the late 1980s and 1990s with Harrison and Alec. But, I think right now given the interconnectivity of the world, given the gray morality of politics and spydom and all that -- there’s a fertile ground to be mined for good stories.”