She plays the female Jack Reacher, kind of.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Credit: David James

You’ve seen Cobie Smulders play a badass government-type in her ongoing role as SHIELD agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Smulders gets to play an action hero in a world without flying men and skyscraper-toppling green giants. “I’m not competing fight-wise with superheroes,” she laughs. “It is so exciting to see these superheroes fight one another. The [human characters] are, like, ‘I’m just gonna make some phone calls.’ So it was really fun to be in a movie where you had to fight for your life at every opportunity. No weapons, no superpowered gear, no SHIELD agency beyond you. You’re on the run.”

In the Jack Reacher sequel, Smulders plays Major Susan Turner, a confirmed military badass with Ranger training. When the film begins, Turner has taken over from Tom Cruise’s Reacher as the head of an internal military investigation unit. Turner and Reacher know and respect each other…and there’s the spark of something more. “These are two people who don’t have much time to date,” says Turner. “They started a relationship just by being friendly and helping each other out, and that blossomed into more. Reacher decides to seek out Turner, and maybe ask her out.”

Things quickly go awry, as they so often do in Reacher’s world, and the two find themselves on the run from an elaborate conspiracy. “It’s an interesting dynamic between these two characters, who are so used to being alone and being in charge. Now they have to work together. Initially, that goes horribly wrong, and they have to reconfigure themselves.” And then comes a further complication: A teenaged girl, played by Heroes Reborn‘s Danika Yarosh, who claims to be Reacher’s daughter. “She becomes a big part of the story,” says Smulders. “So now we’re in this weird family dynamic. My character did not ask to be saddled with this type of responsibility, and so there’s a constant clashing of ideas. At the same time, they’re all being hunted, all being chased.” Eat your heart out, Modern Family!

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens Oct. 21.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • Movie
  • 118 minutes