Bulking Up: Ritchson’s TV Dream Role Gets Life-Changing in Season 2

Bulking Up: Ritchson’s TV Dream Role Gets Life-Changing in Season 2: “In the latest season of the Amazon Prime action series ‘Reacher,’ Alan Ritchson’s towering and muscular titular character heaps food onto an already brimming plate at an Atlantic City restaurant boasting an all-you-can-eat buffet sign.”

When a cashier jests that someone considered it “a personal challenge,” he retorts, “I’m just getting started.” According to the actor, this is a moment where Ritchson and his formidable counterpart share the same mindset.

Regrettably, that is indeed my reality,” he shares. I typically order three or four entrees. I eat for so many people. People usually ask, Is somebody else joining you? No, just bring the food. I’m going to eat it all. Don’t you worry about it.

The formidable military investigator and wandering hero, Jack Reacher, returns to tackle challenges and devour meals in Season 2, with the first three episodes available for streaming on Friday, followed by weekly releases. The initial season of “Reacher” achieved breakout success in February 2022, swiftly becoming one of Prime Video’s top five most-watched series shortly after its debut. The show has already secured a Season 3, currently in production.

From “intense action” to moments of drama and humor, the show fulfills every aspect of entertainment that I, as a performer, enjoy exploring,” Ritchson expresses.
In Season 1 of the anthology series adapted from Lee Child’s novels, Ritchson’s character delivered justice to a small town in Georgia and, after completing the task, finally indulged in a slice of peach pie. The latest episodes transport him to the bustling streets of New York City, where Reacher teams up with private investigator Frances Neagley (Maria Sten) to unravel the mystery behind the murders of soldiers from their former Army unit.

While he remains as stoic as ever, the man known for his ever-ready travel toothbrush begins to reveal a hint of emotion, especially when confronted with higher personal stakes.

Navigating the portrayal of Reacher requires a delicate balance, Ritchson explains, “There’s a razor-thin line to walk with Reacher between being too empathetic or showing too much pain or vulnerability and showing somebody who’s just a robot.” He emphasizes that the allure of watching Reacher lies in the character’s ability to appear unaffected by significant trauma, a trait many of us might wish to emulate. However, Ritchson clarifies that this doesn’t mean Reacher lacks the capacity for love or deep emotions; he carries profound memories of the people he cares about with him.

A significant change for the upcoming season is Ritchson’s deliberate effort to enhance his robust 6-foot-2 physique and sleeve-stretching biceps at the age of 41. The formidable Reacher in Child’s novels, previously portrayed by Tom Cruise in the 2012 and 2016 “Jack Reacher” films, is depicted as having “rippling abs and a chest that’s bulletproof,” Ritchson points out. In order to authentically embody the character, he underwent a rapid transformation for Season 1, diligently adding 30 pounds of muscle over eight months. “I built a gym in my house, and all I did was eat and work out,” he shares. For Season 2, he continued to build on this foundation, adding more weight to further refine and solidify his physique.

Reflecting on his early days portraying Aquaman in the 2000s episodes of WB’s “Smallville,” Ritchson compares himself to the present and remarks, “When I look at pictures of myself back then, I’m like a skinny marathon runner compared to where I’m at now.”

Ritchson shares that due to his body’s natural inclination to bulk up, he engaged in a daily 13-mile run to maintain a lean physique for potential roles. Despite his efforts, he found that most of the opportunities that came his way were in the realm of comic-book characters, such as portraying motion-capture Raphael in a cinematic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” adaptation and playing Hawk in the television series “Titans.” Reflecting on his physicality, he notes, “I was big enough to look like a superhero, but I could play a stepdad, and that awkward dance was felt by the industry.”

The arrival of “Reacher” marked a turning point for Ritchson as he discovered his “dream role”: a character larger than life that required him to actively work on matching up to. Reflecting on this experience, he shares, “It was the first time in my career that anybody ever told me what I had to do with my body. It was affirmation that you can just settle into who you were meant to be.”

Presently, Ritchson has assumed the role of “the action guy,” taking on a prominent villainous character in “Fast X” and presumably in the upcoming “Fast X: Part 2.” Additionally, he mentions having “25 films on my desk right now (where) I just get to be me. I get to look the way that I look, carry myself the way I carry myself.” Reflecting on this shift in his career, he adds, “It’s been life changing.”

In Child’s novels, Ritchson notes, “Reacher becomes sort of mythologically large – he gets bigger as his adventures continue.” Expressing his desire to honor this aspect of the character, he playfully speculates on the potential size, saying, “How big can he get? Well, it might be time to shut down the buffet line.”

In a lighthearted tone, Ritchson adds, “How about 320 pounds of pure fat, because I’m just going to get lazy and I’m eating whatever I want. All those peach pies are going to make their way in. It’s going to be a whole different ‘Reacher’ Season 3.”

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