Mace Neufeld has produced all five films in the Jack Ryan franchise – The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger and The Sum Of All Fears and now Jack Ryan: Shadow Recuit. The producer talks to Elbert Wyche.
Neufeld produced the reboot with Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Chris Pine stars in the title role as the CIA analyst.
It’s been over a decade since the last Jack Ryan film, The Sum Of All Fears. What are some of the reasons behind that long hiatus?
Ben Affleck played the younger Jack Ryan in The Sum Of All Fears and the film was successful. He was good, but unfortunately he went into a film called Gigli, which was disastrous and Paramount backed off, at least for a while. We had a deal with Ben to do another one but they backed away from that. Then there was a management change, various directors and writers came in and things just went on and on. When Brad Grey and Adam Goodman came in as chairman and head of production they looked at the books and at the four Ryan films and asked why they weren’t making another one and that’s what started it up again.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit came from the original script Dubai. What happened in the genesis of this script that led to it becoming a Jack Ryan reboot?
The central storyline about Russia trying to collapse the US economy by buying up dollars and then dumping them seemed like a really interesting idea for a Jack Ryan movie. So we got the writer of that script (Dubai), Adam Cozad, to do several drafts on the script. Eventually we brought in David Koepp who did the final draft, which became the movie. When Koepp finished his version, we sent it to Kenneth Branagh and he wanted to come on board. We had already signed Chris Pine before we ever saw that original script. We signed him after we saw him in Star Trek. I saw him on stage and he was quite impressive as an actor so we found our Jack Ryan and we planned our story around him.
How did you get Chris Pine attached to star as Jack Ryan without a script?
Jack Ryan is a very appealing character to actors. Since we were doing a rebooting of the franchise we needed a younger Jack Ryan and Chris filled that bill perfectly. He was the right age, he was a very intelligent actor and came from an acting family. He didn’t come with a stars ego, which is very important to me.
What factored into the decision to cast Kevin Costner as Jack Ryan’s mentor?
I had originally offered him the role of Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October. He thanked me for that but he had been working on this little western called Dances With Wolves – so he opted out. While we were discussing whom the CIA department head would be, somebody said, ‘Well what about Kevin Costner?’ He had just done Hatfields & McCoys, which was a major TV hit. So we contacted him, he read the script and he said yes.
How did you decide on locations and where did you ultimately shoot?
Originally we were going to shoot in Montreal. When Kenneth Branagh came along he said he thought we could shoot this in London, where he would be very comfortable. Our initial reaction was London is so expensive, just to get in a cab costs 15 or 20 dollars. There was a new tax rebate available in England. Kenneth came back to the United States with a bound colour booklet with all of these great locations that we thought were in Moscow, but were actually in Liverpool and London. Since we could qualify for the English tax rebate it was decided then to do it in London – with three days in Moscow and four days in New York.
Was this movie designed to be a prequel to other Jack Ryan films or is this an official beginning to a new franchise?
Hopefully it’s an official beginning to a new franchise. They would all be original based on the characters. Taking Chris Pine from where he is in this film forward.
Photo of Mace Neufeld by Pamela Littky © Paramount Pictures 2014. All Rights Reserved
Photo of Kenneth Branagh and Mace Neufeld by David Lee © MMXIV Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved