Season 1 of “Reacher” debuted in 2022 to massive success, topping the Nielson streaming charts and breaking records for Amazon’s Prime Video service. And while the absurdly fun tone and overblown action certainly contributed to that success, much of it also had to do with Alan Ritchson’s imposing presence. The 6-foot-3 actor had worked over eight months to bulk up, putting on 30 pounds and hitting 235 pounds by the time filming started. In that way, he’d already done a better job than Cruise in the eyes of devoted fans. But according to the actor, he wasn’t thinking about the Hollywood legend too much when crafting his performance.

Ritchson was asked by Collider about how he separated his version of Jack Reacher from fan expectations and Cruise’s performance, saying he felt pressure to, “get this right.” But as he started work on the show, he revealed that the pressure eased and a new process emerged:

There was a huge presence of producers and executives and writers, and we had amazing directors. Everybody has access to the books too. They all have an opinion on who Reacher is to them, and it was a truly collaborative effort, in a way that I haven’t experienced before. I’ve played iconic characters before that have a lot of IP attached to it … I’m just taking all of it in, and it’s like, ‘Let’s play around. Let’s tinker. Let’s try him this way. Let’s try him your way.’ Everybody saw something a little different, and it was just about being open and availing myself to what I thought, and what the directors and producers thought.”