Most actors are too short to play my leading man, says Jack Reacher author Lee Child

Hannah Furness
·2-min read
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the 2012 film
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the 2012 film

When searching for a leading man to play an all-action, Alpha male sleuth, one might have thought casting directors would be inundated with A-list actors.

There is just one problem, according to author Lee Child: they are all too short.

The writer, whose best-selling Jack Reacher novels are being adapted for television, said there are “very few” tall actors suitable for the roles, with fans complaining after Tom Cruise appeared in a film version.

Speaking to the Sunday Times about his search for a new actor for the television series, Child said it had been a long process he likened to "looking for Cinderella, only with an army boot instead of a glass slipper".

At 5ft 7in, Cruise was ten inches shorter than the Reacher of the popular novels, leading to a backlash from dedicated fans.

"There are very few tall actors around," Child said. "Daniel Craig was suggested, but he's only knee high to Reacher."

The role has now been awarded to 37-year-old American actor Alan Ritchson, who is 6ft 2in and has appeared in The Hunger Games and CSI: Miami.

Lee Child, the bestselling author - Geoff Pugh
Lee Child, the bestselling author - Geoff Pugh

Some actors have previously spoken about the challenges of having a short stature.

James McAvoy, who is 5ft 7in, said he “sometimes gets told I’m too short for a role”, or made to feel like it was “unbelievable” for a leading lady to be attracted to him.

Al Pacino has spoken of how he nearly missed out on his role in The Godfather after film-makers thoughts he was too short, while John Cleese, the comedian, once branded “little Welsh bandy-legged guy” Daniel Craig “simply not tall enough” to play James Bond.

Daniel Craig in No Time To Die - Nicola Dove
Daniel Craig in No Time To Die - Nicola Dove

Daniel Radcliffe, who is 5ft 5in, has joked he was perfectly qualified to play characters in the Armed Forces, with the minimum height for a Royal Marine 5ft, adding: “Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise have very different careers, and they’re both about the same height as I am.”

The character of Jack Reacher, star of Child’s crime thriller novels, is described as a US Army military police veteran and wanderer who roams the country investigating suspicious circumstances and righting wrongs.

The books have sold an estimated 100 million copies.

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