Amazon’s newest drama, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, drops next year exclusively on PrimeVideo in cooperation with Paramount Television and Skydance Television. Amazon brought the series to New York Comic Con Saturday, with a panel featuring executive producers Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland and stars John Krasinski (Jack Ryan) and Abbie Cornish (Cathy Mueller).
The panel began with Cuse premiering the first footage from the series, mostly finished but in need of polishing.
Bekaa Valley, Labonon, 1983.
A boombox flicks to life. “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. A big family. Two young brothers head out to play. A fleet of jets soar above, disrupting the picturesque scene. Boom. Explosions rock the hillside. The brothers run, but they’re swallowed up by darkness -- cut to Washington, D.C., present day. Jack Ryan (Kasinski) rows. He’s very put together and clean cut, the kind of guy who bikes to work.
An open car door forces Jack into the street. Another flies by, nearly running him over. “Watch it, sh-thead!” the driver yells. “Assh-le,” Jack says. Enter the Terror Finance and Arms Division. The assh-le, James Greer (Wendell Pierce) sits in a waiting room. A government official hands him a second chance: something happened. “I went to bat for you,” he says. “Don’t f--k me on this.” Jack, in full analyst mode, is one cog of a big table with hard-at-work government types. In walks the new group chief: the assh-le. “Oh, sh-t,” Jack says. End of clip.
“I was a huge Tom Clancy fan,” Cuse said. “When I was offered the opportunity to reboot the franchise, I jumped at it. I feel now is the time to have this kind of story, now is the time to have a character like Jack Ryan out there saving us against the evils of the world.”
The series is comprised of eight, one-hour episodes, a move that Cuse says gives the show an advantage over the movies.
“The idea that we could take these big books and make them into a two hour movie is really challenging, but an eight hour series really allows you to explore it,” Cuse said. “We approached this like we were making an eight hour movie.”
“I’ve always been a huge Jack Ryan fan,” Krasinski said. “I read the books, but I was always such a nerd for those movies too. I grew up with it -- in a way, [Jack Ryan] was sort of our American version of James Bond or something to me.”
"I'm very excited to go from paper salesman to super spy," Krasinski said, nodding to his long time The Office character Jim Halpert.
"I love the idea of playing with someone's moral code and what they're willing to change and how much they're willing to change," he continued. "Can you go too far and can you come back?"
Cornish dished about her character, Dr. Cathy Mueller, a doctor of infectious diseases who forms a romantic relationship with Ryan.
“I listened to a lot of books on infectious diseases,” Cornish said. “So it was kind of cool, I learned a lot of really interesting new words I cant use in real life. I also carry Purell everywhere I go.” Cornish described Mueller as an “intelligent, confident American woman,” who is also “very compassionate and open.”
Her profession “comes in handy with the CIA as they’re investigating a dangerous infectious threat,” Cornish said.
Jack Ryan won’t be the polished super spy audiences are familiar with -- yet -- with Krasinski describing the hero as “nerdy” and “a fish out of water.”
“This is kind of an early version of Jack Ryan,” Cuse said. “He’s only worked in the CIA for four years as a really successful analyst, and in our story we get to see his first entry into the field.”
Authenticity was important to the filmmakers, employing consultants and visiting the CIA.
“I think authenticity is one of if not the biggest hallmarks of Tom Clancy,” Roland said. “He really made you feel like you were brought into that world in an accurate way, and John and I knew we had to continue that tradition.” Roland said the consultants enriched the world and gave the show a unique feel.
The series shot in Montreal, D.C., Moracco, and Paris. “You’ll feel the scope across the whole show,” Cuse said.
A second clip acted as a trailer. Helicopters. Guns. Scenes set all over the globe. “I run logistics for the Western hemisphere,” Ryan says. “I’m an analyst. I don’t interrogate people, I write reports!” “Get on the f--king plane,” Greer barks. Ryan disarms a foe in hand-to-hand combat. There’s guns, actions and explosions, set to Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War.”
“As much as we love Jack Ryan, it had to be a little darker, a little grittier and pretty intense,” Krasinski teased.
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan debuts exclusively on Amazon in 2018.