As the American film and television industries have developed on franchises driven by charismatic main characters, very few have had as much staying power as the Ryanverse, the collection of projects built around Jack Ryan created by Tom Clancy. The eponymous character has been featured in a number of successful projects across a variety of artistic mediums. These include the Tom Clancy series of novels, various feature films in the 1990s and 2000s, and the most recent major series on Amazon Prime Video, which ran for four seasons. Very few franchises have maintained this level of prowess in the action and espionage genres. The protagonist backgrounds and credits have been updated to reflect the time period in which they were rebooted.
Update July 14, 2023: In honor of the release of the latest episodes on Amazon Prime, this list has been updated with more information.
As the character evolved over time, the featured actors also brought a unique perspective and freshness to the role. FIVE TALENTED CASTERS Once audiences start watching one of Jack Ryan’s adaptations, it’s hard for them to stop. So, let’s find out all the actors who have played Jack Ryan to date and rank them.
5 Chris Pine
Serving as the second reboot of the Jack Ryan film franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was released in 2014 and Chris Pine was welcomed into the universe for his portrayal of the title character. Paine’s portrayal has been praised for its competent and realistic portrayal of the iconic literary figure. Despite this, he was also dubbed the “Unknown Jack Ryan” due to the film’s disappointing box office performance, which thwarted future cinematic plans for this iteration. Shadow Recruit has a unique storyline where Jack Ryan gets caught up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with a notorious Russian oligarch (played by Kenneth Branagh, who also served as the film’s director) as the latter Vala becomes a threat to the American. financial market. Ryan must act quickly and covertly to prevent a global financial meltdown.
Chris Pine has starred in several action movies and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit perfectly embraces the extensive use of rousing, action-packed long shots, while balancing its portrayal with a level of calculative intelligence. Taking on a role as famous and acclaimed as Jack Ryan can be tough, especially when it comes to providing a young, novice perspective to this iteration of the fictional CIA analyst. And while his portrayal of Jack Ryan is for one project and technically the lowest ranked iteration, there’s still a lot to learn from Chris Pine’s portrayal of Jack Ryan.
4 Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is another actor who got the opportunity to portray the young and budding iteration of Tom Clancy’s most famous hero. The Sum of All Fears, Jack Ryan’s first official cinematic reboot, centers on a neo-Nazi terrorist group that seeks to incite conflict between the United States and a new Russian political regime. Although the film is not that different from the original Jack Ryan trilogy, Affleck does well in his role as a CIA agent. Like previous versions of Jack Ryan, Affleck stays true to the character’s principles in his level choices in the face of the highly stressful situations he faces.
Ben Affleck made several highly regarded appearances that established him as an elite Hollywood talent, and it’s no surprise that the film did decently well at the box office. With his fresh approach firmly established in the role, Affleck deftly brought the CIA protagonist naturally into the 21st century, following Jack Ryan’s relatively dated portrayal in the classic Tom Clancy novels and the original film trilogy. Like Chris Pine nearly a decade later, Affleck brought a new sense of freshness and passion to the character. However, unlike the recent theatrical iteration, it’s more disappointing that Affleck’s tenure as an iconic character was never followed up after The Sum of All Fears.
3 Alec Baldwin
When Alec Baldwin played Jack Ryan in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, he provided the face of the first on-screen portrayal of the legendary literary figure. Baldwin’s thrilling journey as a secret agent was a major turning point in the actor’s rise to more mature leading roles in major Hollywood productions. When he’s at his best, Baldwin perfectly captures the spirit and bravery of Jack Ryan as captured on the big screen by Tom Clancy. The Hunt for Red October features a schooner named Ryan, who meets Ramius (played by Sean Connery) in Russia, who believes the commander of a Russian submarine is planning to flee to the United States and calls Ramius’ making a dangerous attempt to ‘make’. Make the plan a reality.
Ryan’s portrayal by Baldwin had a much darker tone than that of his future compatriot, as he often contemplated the highly probable consequences of a naval battle off the American East Coast at the end of the Cold War. Baldwin’s portrayal of Jack Ryan is poor as Remius seems to be the main focus of the film. In their scenes with them at the film’s climax, Sean Connery had more control over the frame than Alec. Many Jack Ryan enthusiasts disagree, saying that Baldwin’s performance in the picture was the best of Clancy’s work. Unfortunately for fans of Baldwin and his character though, behind-the-scenes business machinations at Paramount Pictures forced the actor to drop out of the role. The idea of Baldwin being tied down even more by the acclaimed role remains one of Hollywood’s major “what if” scenarios.
2 John Krasinski
In the well-received TV adaptation starring John Krasinski for Amazon Prime Video, Ryan is resurrected in his early days as a CIA agent and morally upright genius. Krasinski portrayed a modern version of the Jack Ryan character in all four seasons of the popular television series. John Krasinski is the epitome of the modern action hero, and characteristics from each prior portrayal are integrated to create a composite character with Krasinski’s take on Dr. Ryan. This presentation featured Jack Ryan as a desk-bound analyst, still dealing with the physical wounds and psychological trauma of his time in Marine action. Ryan finds himself returning to the fray and continues for the duration of the series, pursuing Moussa bin Suleiman, an Islamic terrorist.
In Jack Ryan’s second season, he takes on a cynical attitude (something unique from previous iterations) due to the US government’s involvement with the corrupt Venezuelan government. In another notable change for this version of the franchise, Jack Ryan and his allies have to contend with government bureaucracy in the fourth and final season as the main character finds himself the Deputy Director of the CIA. Krasinski’s charisma and compelling action sequences are enough to set him above his Jack Ryan peers on screen. This definitely ranks among John Krasinski’s best performances on screen. The final season of Jack Ryan premieres on June 30, 2023, and its last episode airs on July 14, 2023.
1 Harrison Ford
In Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, Harrison Ford reinvented Tom Clancy’s intelligence officer and brought him into the films in place of Alec Baldwin for the rest of the original trilogy. The legendary actor is the only actor to play this character twice in films. Additionally, Ford remains the role model in the minds of many ardent fans of Clancy (he was cited as a primary influence for the TV adaptation directed by John Krasinski). As a CIA agent, historian, and professor in the US Marine Corps who is also a devoted father, Tom Clancy is portrayed by Ford with all his essential qualities.
Harrison Ford has been known for his incredible performances throughout his career, and Jack Ryan is one of his most iconic performances (even though it’s not technically on MovieWeb’s list of Ford’s best repertoire). Ford recently returned in one of his iconic roles for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate and the current Amazon Prime series is ending, in some form or another for his vendetta on Jack Ryan (which probably includes very little). The action involved) could be an interesting narrative opportunity for the now 81-year-old actor to explore.