Last month there was a minor scandal surrounding the release of Snow White and the Huntsman, which famously features well known character actors portraying the Seven Dwarves, with visual trickery employed to alter their implied size, rather than using performers who possess this stature naturally.
At the time I claimed that the casting of famous faces in roles fit for real dwarves was not some kind of politically incorrect statement but was rather a result of needing to flesh out the film with some established players. They were supposed to be a mythical race after all, not a group of people who happen to suffer from a genetic condition.
But this week I became as furious as the dwarves who had been shunned from the spotlight when I saw the first trailer for Jack Reacher.
For those who don’t know, the character of Jack Reacher was created by author Lee Child and has appeared in a series of best-selling thriller novels over the past decade and a half. He is a frighteningly intelligent ex-military policeman who has become a drifter after mustering out of the army. He has no middle name. He is six and a half feet tall with blond hair. He weighs anywhere from 220 to 250 pounds, depending on the book. He carries nothing but a toothbrush and an outdated passport. He is a complete bad ass.
And he is being portrayed on the silver screen for the first time by Tom Cruise.
Cruise is reported to be 5’7” tall, which is essentially a foot shorter than Reacher’s repeatedly asserted height. And even at his peak, it’s just not possible for Cruise to match the physical stature that massive Reacher fans, such as myself, would expect.
Child has said that the size of Reacher is a metaphor, or that it’s not important, or that there are no actors who could reasonably portray his physicality as it appears on the page. But in this instance I feel that size really does matter. And so I’ve come up with a few actors who might better fit the bill.
The Thor star bulked up a ridiculous amount to play the Norse god, and while he is a touch young to play Reacher in his current state, there are at least two novels that delve back into his time in the army during his 20s and 30s, which would be perfect. Plus he can pull off blond. Failing that, his brother Liam is even taller/younger.
While only a couple of inches taller than Cruise, and completely incapable of a convincing American accent, I would even be willing to accept the plucky Brit as Reacher, because he is at least NOT TOM CRUISE.
What adds insult to injury is the fact that Cruise and Co. have chosen one of the least interesting books from the series upon which to base the film, then emphasised the use of a muscle car in the trailer when Reacher is known for taking public transport, then made it look like Mission:Impossible for no reason other than financial gain.
I am in the odd position of hoping that a film will flop so that either no more are made or Tom Cruise will at last be dissuaded from ever again trying to fill some frankly enormous shoes. Sometimes star power can trump size, but not in this instance.