Tom Clancy fans and Amazon Prime subscribers will have to wait until 2018 to get a full look at the latest version of Jack Ryan, but the cast and creators — stars John Krasinski and Abbie Cornish, showrunner Carlton Cuse, and writer Graham Roland — were able to give them an extended sneak peek during their New York Comic Con panel on Saturday.
The panel began with an exclusive preview of the first seven minutes of Jack Ryan, which will debut with an eight-episode season on Amazon Prime next year (an official release date has still not been announced). The series opens with a scene set in Lebanon in 1983, and features two young boys running around playing and doing chores when they’re suddenly interrupted by an airstrike on their home. Cut to modern-day Washington, D.C., where Jack Ryan (Krasinski) is getting in an early-morning rowing workout. He soon exchanges the boat for a bike, and has an angry confrontation with a driver (Wendell Pierce) on his way to his job at the CIA. When he gets there, we learn that Pierce is actually playing James Greer, Jack’s new boss. Jack mutters “oh s–t,” and then the clip ends.
That wasn’t all the Jack Ryan team had for fans, though. They also unveiled a brand-new trailer for the series, which used several shots from those first minutes but also featured Cornish as Dr. Cathy Mueller, whom Jack meets for the first time at a party hosted by her father, and several action clips highlighting Jack’s gradual transformation from bookish computer guy to accomplished field agent.
In Clancy’s novels, Jack is married to Cathy, and Greer is not his immediate supervisor but a much higher superior in the CIA. This series starts early on in their relationships, and will provide a sort of origin story for the dynamics Clancy readers are used to.
“We wanted to start the story in a little bit of a different place than the books or previous movies,” Cuse said. “So in our version, James Greer is just Jack’s immediate boss; in the books and movies, he’s way above him in the CIA. We wanted to start Jack and Cathy’s relationship when they were dating, so there was some dynamism there and we could see how that relationship unfolds. This is an early version of Jack Ryan. He’s only worked at the CIA for four years. He’s a really successful analyst, but in our story, he gets his first experience in the field, and we get to see how that works out for him.”
As Krasinski joked at one point during the panel, he is approximately the 73rd actor to play the titular hero on screen. But one big difference between him and his predecessors (including Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and Chris Pine) is that this version is not based on any one Clancy novel, but instead throws the author’s iconic characters into a new story that resonates with the geopolitics of the modern world.
“I think that one of the hallmarks of Tom Clancy’s franchise was that he really managed to put his finger on geopolitical issues of the time,” Cuse said. “When Graham and I started, we started out adapting one of the books, but it just felt dated. So we abandoned that and we came up with our own original story, which we really felt was of this time and this moment. It involves terrorism, but it really goes deep. That’s what Clancy did — he took you inside the issues of the day and entertained you, but also gave you some more understanding about what’s behind those things. That was our goal as well.”
Jack Ryan marks the second time that Krasinski — who made his name as goofy, lovable Jim on The Office — will be playing a national security operative fighting the forces of terrorism, following his starring role in last year’s 13 Hours. Once the panel opened up to audience questions, several people asked Krasinski about this transition. First, he pointed out that the leap from Jim to Jack is not as big as some might think.
“I drew a lot from my paper salesman days for this,” Krasinski said. “As you can see from the first seven minutes, I spend some time in an office, so I had a little experience with that. The thing I love about both characters is they are very true to themselves — they’re honest about the things they’re not good at, and try harder at the things they are good at to get even better. For me, the whole idea of Jack Ryan is that he’s a very average, normal guy.”
At another point, Krasinski got emotional talking about what he admired about those who dedicate their lives to this kind of work.
“I come from a big military family. I grew up with a lot of aunts and uncles who have served or are currently serving,” Krasinski said. “The Office is 1,000 percent the greatest job I’ll have in that way, because it was my first job and it gave me so many opportunities, but I wanted to use those opportunities to try new things. So I was proud to be in 13 Hours and then to have my life completely changed by my experiences with the military since. I feel the exact same way about this show, and getting to go to the CIA and meet these people. I don’t think in today’s world you can find anything more inspiring than someone who has committed to being totally and wholly selfless. To spend your time doing stuff for people you’ve never met and will never meet, and to dedicate your whole life to that, there’s nothing more heroic than that to me. I’m very honored to play the part.”
Check out the new trailer above.