Exclusive Interview: Lorenzo di Bonaventura & Mace Neufeld on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” movie franchise consists of only five films, and it’s already been rebooted four times. Alec Baldwin originally starred as Jack Ryan in John McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October (1990), was replaced by an older family man version played by Harrison Ford in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), who was replaced by a younger version played by Ben Affleck in Phil Alden Robinson’s The Sum of All Fears (2002), and now he’s younger than ever, played by Chris Pine in Kenneth Branagh’s origin story Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, coming out in theaters this weekend. 

Just about the only constant in all this tumult – besides Clancy himself – has been producer Mace Neufeld, the man behind every Jack Ryan movie to date. For the latest film he’s accompanied by producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers), who helped produce a film that once again tries to bring Tom Clancy’s pencil-pushing CIA analyst-turned-action hero into the modern age, courtesy of a classy director. 

I sat down with Neufeld and di Bonaventura to discuss their thoughts on rebooting the Jack Ryan franchise yet again, this time with a story that wasn’t cooked up by Clancy himself, and instead cobbled together from the hero’s backstory as revealed throughout the hit series of novels. We also discuss the announced spin-off series starring Clancy favorite character John Clark, casting Kevin Costner as Jack Ryan’s mentor despite originally offering Costner the role in The Hunt for Red October, and how they tricked Kenneth Branagh into playing Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit‘s villain by first offering him the director’s chair.


CraveOnline: Is it just me or does Jack Ryan just keep getting younger?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: [Laughs] No, it’s not just you.

Mace Neufeld: [Laughs]


Is that a calculated attempt to keep him “hip” for the young generations?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It’s a sequel to Benjamin Button, actually.


Next up: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Babies.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Well, it’s the origin story so you’ve got to go young. If you look at the Clancy mythology, Chris is right about the age Jack Ryan was in terms of his progression, so that’s really why he’s that age.


I’m really only familiar with the films. I haven’t read the books. Is this the canonical origin of Jack Ryan in the books, and we’re just telling the actual story now?

Mace Neufeld: A lot of it.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: We had the advantage of taking things from every book. It’s not based on a single book. There’s problem with not having that, which is you have to come up with the whole plot and you have to think through a lot of things, but you’re able to tell the story of him enlisting, you’re able to tell the story of him crashing. You’re able to tell the story of his bad back. You’re able to tell the story of going to Wall Street. Those were all things that couldn’t have existed in any single book. We were able to take them from all the books. Mace had done some of the pieces of that, but not put them all together in that way.


Is this officially a prequel to those other movies, or is there potential that, now that we’ve done Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, you can remake something like Clear & Present Danger in a Casino Royale fashion somewhere in the future?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: [Laughs] I never thought about that. Have you?

Mace Neufeld: No, never thought about that. If we do it we’ll credit you. [Laughs]


Thank you! It’s interesting because there’s all these Jack Ryan novels, and it strikes that you’re in the same place as – not to beat a dead horse – but the James Bond franchise around the 1980s when they starting running out of source material, and they had to start coming up with it on their own. Is that daunting?

Mace Neufeld: No, it’s not daunting as long as we have his characters and we have great writers around to think up plots. But right now we’re just thinking about opening weekend and not about a sequel.