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The Test rugby player Jack Reacher's physical appearance is based on

By Ian Cameron
Actor Alan Ritchson attends Prime Video's "The Reacher Challenge" on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video)

Streaming fans will no doubt be aware that Amazon have rebooted the Jack Reacher book franchise in a new series on their video platform.

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The titular character is described in the books as a former military serviceman who wanders the United States taking on odd jobs and investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations. He’s described as  ‘extremely tall, extremely broad, long-armed and long-legged’ with a ‘thick’ neck and ‘hands the size of dinner plates’.

Prior to Amazon’s series, the Jack Reacher series had spawned 22 novels and two films.

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Jamie Noon previews the final round of the Six Nations | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 25
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Jamie Noon previews the final round of the Six Nations | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 25

The film adaptations received backlash when diminutive actor Tom Cruise – who stands just 1.7m tall – was cast as the lead character. Alan Ritchson, who plays Reacher in Amazon’s new series, stands 1.9m and weighs in around 106kg, closer to author Lee Child’s original vision for the protagonist.

Back in 2018 Child revealed in an interview with New Zealand’s Radio Sport that Reacher’s appearance and physique in the novels were based on an 85-test England loose forward.

“I based Reacher on a physical type of person which is huge and ugly,” Child said. “There was an English rugby player called Lawrence Dallaglio.

“Think of him in his peak. He was a big guy.

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“There is a very iconic picture of him – a photo of him – and he’s got the ball in one hand, he’s got these giant hands. He is exactly the sort of guy you would not mess with. Because he’s big and he’s also rather brutal-looking, not that I would ever say that to his face.”

Child, who is an executive producer on the new series, was then asked if Dallaglio knew he was part of the inspiration behind the character.

“I think he does,” Child said. “At the time Martin Johnson was England captain – he was a Reacher fan and was kind of annoyed I wasn’t basing it on him!”

Dallaglio
Laurence Dallaglio (Photo by Adam Davy/EMPICS via Getty Images)
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Dallaglio – in his playing days at least – was listed at 1.90m and 112kg, almost the exact measurements of his fictional counterpart. A back-row forward, Dallaglio appeared for England 85 times and spent his entire domestic career with Wasps, making 227 appearances between 1990 and 2008.

‘There was criticism from the book fans [of Tom Cruise’s casting in the films] because they had built up a very clear image of what Reacher should look like,’ said Child more recently. ‘It just became a different proposition and I guess the opportunity of thinking alright, we can get a much bigger guy so the book fans are going to be happy, but we’re also focusing on the non-book readers. What do they need? They need just great entertainment, they don’t have the reference already, and so we also had to satisfy them.”

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