The grey skies wane over Leicester Square as a chill catches the air, sending shivers down your spine. Within a boxed off area, a select few are privy an unfurled red carpet as slight smoke catches the air and the greatest movie star, Tom Cruise, walks the Jack Reacher: Never Go Back premiere.
For a man who has spent three decades at the height of popular film culture arrives half an hour before his co-stars appear. The illusion is that he’d want the red carpet to himself, but really, it’s so he can meet every single fan who has been wailing his name since 7am this morning. Though the blistering dance music thuds away as the daytime twists into night, Cruise, Cobie Smulders, and the rest of the Jack Reacher cast and crew are in high spirits about the latest action movie release.
““It’s the character,” says Cruise as We Make Movies on Weekends asked him what makes the character so likeable to audiences. The popular hero based on a series of novels by Lee Child sees Cruise re-take the titular role and join forces with Major Susan Turner, accused of espionage. With a chiselled white smile, and a dazzling personality, he cheerily answers about Reacher’s popularity: “The plots are just conceived to a point where you can only see this character in it. And I think that kinda makes things. What we were able to do with him meant we could challenge him emotionally and physically. It’s an entertaining character and he does outrageous things.”
Speaking of challenges emotionally, despite performing in countless action films, he admits the fighting was more intense. “There were a few bruises and bumps with this one. When you are doing fights like these, no matter how hard you train, it’s always challenging. The guys who I did it with are very, very skilled and you gotta go hard with them. Reacher has a unique fighting style that I love, it’s really fun to play – quite abruptly brutal and very entertaining.”
Opposite him as Major Susan Turner is Cobie Smulders who shot to fame in the Avengers Series and television show How I Met Your Mother (Note: I’d also watch indie flick Results because she is stellar in it.) Here she plays a sparring character who is able to trade blows alongside Jack Reacher as a tough, capable woman. Tonight, donned in all white, Cobie is down to earth and jokey with the excitable press. Talking of Turner, Cobie states: “She’s a really great character and a woman who has gone through a lot very capable very strong, she and Jack Reacher become sort of comrades. And the goal for them is to find these people who actually committed the crime that she was charged for.”
The film is made up of three components: Smulders, Cruise, and young actress Danika Yarosh. Cobie enthuses that the relationship was great between all three: “There were a lot of days where it was just the three of us. We all got along very well. It was good.”
Smiling cheerily in the chill (she’s Canadian so this is really like summer for her,) Cobie reminisces on her favourite moments saying: “We shot this film in New Orleans. It was an amazing town and we were filming this Halloween sequence. It was really intense.”
That third component, Danika Yarosh is the most elevated her, despite having an already lengthy career at a young age of 18. For a young actress, playing alongside heavyweight Cruise must’ve been something of a triumph. “He’s so kind and so down to earth,” he speaks of the Academy Award winner. “It’s so refreshing, he is so passionate about what he’s doing. Every actor I’ve worked with has a despondency, and he really loves his work.”
Her character and, for some, the actress, there is a lot of mystery about her involvement in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Danika explains: “Turner, Reacher and she (character Samantha Dayton) are on this journey to discovery and to find out what is really happening. Sam is closeted and thrown around the country her life and very independent and very head strong and confident and she’s kind of a lot like Reacher. She’s too mature for her age and used to being alone. There is a weird dynamic between her, Reacher, and Turner and they are head-butting a lot but they rely on each other and it’s so cool to play this turning relationship”
Director Edward Zwick is keen to make sure that Danika and Cobie are strong characters within the Jack Reacher canon. “I love working with strong actors of all kinds. Three strong characters bouncing off each other in very tight situations.”
But at the hub, of course, is the epitomes Reacher and Zwick is glad to have Tom Cruise on board. “It’s his intensity (Tom.) The character is a man who cannot be stopped and that’s where you’ll find Tom too.”
Producer Don Granger concurs that all in Cruise that Reacher develops: “It’s a kick ass actor and Cruise is always working.” Granger later says about the character: “The essence of Jack Reacher is very simple. He is the cowboy who comes off the range on his horse to bring justice for a small down. He’s a knight in shining armour from the middle ages, there’s something incredibly alluring about that solitary character.”
But there isn’t a lack of praise of Smulders as Granger points out: “I’ve been a fan of her for years. My kids actually got me watching How I Met Your Mother. In the show, she excudes intelligence and a very strong women. In the Marvel movies, she played another strong woman and I knew there was no other choice [for the role].”
“From a storytellers point of few, it was Cobie – the whole movie depended on her. She was good and therefore the movie was good,” says Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher novels and creator of this world. Praising Smulders, he also has a kind word for Donika, “She has a future ahead, people are going to go away thinking she’ll be a huge star.”
As the glorious and gorgeous stars are whipped into the warmth of the cinema, there is one question on our minds: Do you think we’ll ever go back to Jack Reacher after tonight’s premiere?
Well, we’ll certainly Cruise onto the next film – that’s for sure.
(Author’s Note: Here’s a little video of Tom Cruise that was cut off when I got over excited.)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is out in cinemas now!