With Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan storming onto Amazon Prime Video today, we've been chatting to one of the show's creators about the story behind the spy...
When you join Vodafone UK on a Red Entertainment plan*, you not only bag yourself a deluge of data and a raft of roaming goodness, you also get the option to sign up to Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV, NOW TV Entertainment, or Amazon Prime Video, on Vodafone.
Opt for the latter and, while you’ll find it full to the brim with blockbuster movies and epic boxsets, it’s the Prime Originals that really round out the Prime Video package. Case in point? Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the awesome new eight episode spy thriller adaptation that’s landing today.
To find out more, we’ve been speaking to the show’s co-creator, executive producer, co-writer, and industry icon, Carlton Cuse.
Launching today, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan reimagines the well-known desk-bound CIA analyst turned field agent with the help of the ever-affable John Krasinski. In its first season, Jack uncovers a terrorist cell operating in the Middle East and works to foil a catastrophic revenge plot.
It’s slick, intelligent and high-octane stuff, and that’s due in part to the influence of Carlton Cuse, a TV legend who’s probably best known for being an executive producer and co-writer of Lost.
“Jack Ryan is a classic, upstanding hero – a person with a strong moral compass.”
Our first question? How do you go about making Jack Ryan – a character who’s already been played by the likes of Chris Pine, Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin – fresh in 2018?
“A lot of spy stories right now feature characters who are anti-heroes,” Carlton says. “Think Jason Bourne, 24, or Homeland – even James Bond has gotten dark.” But this show? It takes a slightly different approach to its titular super spy. “Jack Ryan, in contrast, is a classic, upstanding hero,” he explains, “a person with a strong moral compass — a professional.”
We’d wager that ‘upstanding hero’ vibe was made easier by having John Krasinski in the role. Recent directorial success aside (John directed and starred in this summer’s critically acclaimed horror movie A Quiet Place), you probably best know this version of Jack Ryan from the US version of The Office, where he played Jim Halpert for nine seasons – employing his intrinsic likeability to great effect.
“[Jack Ryan] is that unsung person we all hope exists between us and the forces of chaos and evil in the world,” Carlton adds.
So that’s the character nailed, but what about the world? As one of the show’s main helmsmen, we wanted to know how tough it was to for Carlton to portray the life of a working CIA analyst – and their battles against global terrorism – in a realistic way. After all, TV fans are more discerning viewers today than ever before, right?
“Yeah, we did a lot of research,” Carlton says. “We felt it was very important for our story to feel authentic.” To achieve that, the team “worked with a number of military and intelligence consultants,” helping to ensure that the language used, the work done and the action portrayed all lands with an authentic punch.
“Those intelligence experts all made a huge difference in making our story feel real. A couple also worked with John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce to help them craft their characters,” Carlton adds.
Ultimately though, there are always limits with how real TV can be, with Carlton’s contacts spilling the beans on everything except the super-classified stuff:
“You could tell they were being very careful about what they told us,” he reveals. “They would never cross the line into classified spy craft. That stuff we had to make up ourselves!”
The result is a show that feels genuine, but still packs in all of the spy thriller and action spectacle you’d expect from a big budget production. “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is an original story,” Carlton says in closing, “but it adheres to what I believe made the Clancy novels work: a classic, moral hero; a topical geopolitical storyline; authenticity; and mosaic storytelling where disparate characters come together in unexpected ways.”
And you can find out how those characters do exactly that, right now on Prime Video. Click here to watch season one.
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