Jack Ryan, the character created by Tom Clancy so many moons ago, is once again hitting the big screen. He's a character that has been reinvented through the lenses of Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October), and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears). And now, he's being brought to life once more in the form of Star Trek's baby-faced Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, out Friday. In this origin story of the average-dude-turned-CIA-agent, Kevin Costner plays Ryan's mentor, the seasoned father figure who always happens to be in the right place at the right time. Directed and co-starring Kenneth Branagh as the Russian villain, the cast is rounded out with Kiera Knightly (doing her best American accent) as Ryan's love interest.
Bustle caught up with the cast to talk about reinventing the iconic story, how Pine transformed the classic character, and Costner's hatred of minivans.
"I had three little kids in the last five years, my wife and I. I slowed down for the last three to get them started, and I just had enough of that fucking minivan," Costner said, shaking his head. "I had to get a minivan because my back was killing me from the SUV, moving those seats and shit. I thought about killing someone for real, like in the action movies, because I thought, this is too tough."
Enter Jack Ryan, Costner's route out of the oversized vehicle scene and onto the CIA set. "I didn't get my first check until I was about 27, 28 years old, so I didn't burst onto the scene at 19 or 20. If you look at the guys in my category, I probably have about half the movies that they have," said Costner.
"Longevity to me is not a check, but a love of making movies, living my life outside the lines of Hollywood, so when I come to work, I like to work. I like to work with people who are very specific. I've been fortunate and it's added up to 30 years."
In this case, working along side director and actor Kenneth Branagh, known mostly for his Shakespearian resume, was someone Costner jumped at the chance to work with, and vice versa. "I loved the previous pictures and the books. I like the Cold War era and the big sort of elemental standoff between, in this case, Russia and America, and east and west and old and new and old empires and new empires," Branagh said.
And the film's star, Chris Pine, echoed Branagh's excitement. "I’ve always loved the series, I’ve always loved the spy genre, fiction and films, so I was just kinda well-versed with the Clancy universe, having watched the films growing up... I think what I most enjoyed, for me, was the difference that I saw in how Alec [Baldwin] portrayed the character and how Harrison [Ford] portrayed the character. What Alec does really well is this confident, intelligent, analytical man who knows what he knows and is not afraid to say it. And with Harrison, with his tweed coat and his Volkswagen Jetta, he’s the humble intellect and he’s the classic what Harrison does best, the classic reluctant hero. And I thought somewhere in that was kind of a great way to begin looking at the character."
Although the comparisons are often made, Jack Ryan is not an Americanized James Bond. "Hopefully when our movies are realer, they get realer [than] when they happen to be the James Bond situation where a guy parachutes in and, you know, that kind of thing. That’s another kind of spy movie," said Costner. "So our job is to entertain and to find the rhythms that do that, the language of the day, and hopefully that we don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because spies are trying not to get caught, trying to stop bad things, and hopefully the level of sophistication always is going up."
But that's not to say Jack Ryan isn't without its action, quite the opposite. In one of the first scenes of the fim, we see Pine mustering up all the strength he has trying to defend himself in physical combat against a man twice his size. "I like the fact that Jack, as much as he had training in the Marines, isn’t a trained killing professional, and so it was kind of a MacGyver moment of trying to figure out how to defeat the large bad guy when you’re, you know, not quite as big and not quite as ferocious or talented, you know, with your fists," Pine said.
While she may not be as well versed in using her fists as her on screen fiance, Kiera Knightly plays a not-so-typical leading lady in the action movie genre. In the film, her character is smart (she's a doctor), very independent, and even refuses to marry Pine after it's alluded to that he has asked her many times. She is, in a way, the anti-Bond girl. "I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun with an actress," said Pine. "There was zero drama with Keira Knightley. It was the most lovely, wonderful experience you could ask for. What I respond to more often than anything is just intelligence and she was just sharp, sharp as a tack."
And with the charming Pine, the seasoned Costner and the cleverness of Knightly all tightly bound in a single package, one might assume a sequel is imminent. But Pine isn't so sure: "We’re in a corporate world and we’ll see what Paramount thinks of it. And if people like it and people come to see it, and I would love to do it again, and I think what a really interesting time for a spy franchise in 2014."