Alan Ritchson, who read all 24 Jack Reacher books after being cast, is an unabashed fan of the character. He’s said that he’d like to see every Jack Reacher novel, of which there are now 29, adapted as part of the “Reacher” series. And considering how much his portrayal has resonated with fans, it might not be all that unreasonable a goal.

Part of what makes Ritchson so suited for the role, being bigger than Tom Cruise aside, is his experience growing up the son of a US Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. As the official website describes Jack Reacher, “He’ll arrive in town, come across someone who needs his help, solve a mystery and take out the bad guys, and then get on the next bus out of town.” And while Ritchson didn’t have much experience taking out bad guys as a youth, he does identify with the nomadic element of Reacher’s life.

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Ritchson and his family moved frequently, first to Rantoul, Illinois then to Niceville, Florida. And as he revealed in a /Film interview, those experiences directly played into his “Reacher” performance:

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.”