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Alan Ritchson: Jack's past catches up to him in 'Reacher' S2

Left to right, Shaun Sipos, Serinda Swan, Alan Ritchson and Maria Sten star in the action-drama, "Reacher." Photo courtesy of Prime Video
1 of 5 | Left to right, Shaun Sipos, Serinda Swan, Alan Ritchson and Maria Sten star in the action-drama, "Reacher." Photo courtesy of Prime Video

NEW YORK, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Smallville and Titans alum Alan Ritchson says that the title character of his action-drama, Reacher, is forced to question his solitary life as a drifter when he learns his old friends are in trouble in Season 2.

"Reacher is still Reacher. He's the wanderer he always will be, but his past catches up to him in Season 2," Ritchson told UPI in a recent Zoom interview, ahead of the show's return Friday on Prime Video.

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Suspicious of technology and authority, Reacher is a Robin Hood-type antihero who generally travels by bus from town to town, living off the grid, helping strangers in trouble and solving crimes.

New episodes of the show are based on Lee Child's bestselling novel, Bad Luck and Trouble, and follow Reacher as he reunites with his former unit of U.S. Army police investigators to hunt down those who tortured and murdered several of their friends.

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Reacher's crack team includes private detective Frances Neagley (Maria Sten) -- the only constant in his life, but still someone he only sees occasionally; forensic accountant Karla Dixon (Serinda Swan), his current love interest; and assassin-turned-family man David O'Donnell (Shaun Sipos).

"The stakes are much much higher for him to keep everybody alive and well," Ritchson said, explaining how this story line differs from when he assists people he just meets after arriving in new towns.

"This unit that he assembled -- the 110th, in the military, while on active duty -- [was] the best of the best that he could find at the time," the 41-year-old actor added. "That familiarity really breeds a level of responsibility that he has to them."

Reacher realizes what he is missing as he catches up with veterans who have gotten married and started careers and families since he saw them years earlier.

Whether he has regrets about not staying in one place too long "is a question he is directly asked as he is reminiscing with his former team and seeing the roots they are laying down and what their lives look like as adults," Ritchson said.

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"The response is ambiguously open-ended. It's open for interpretation. What do you want for him as an audience?" he added.

Even though Reacher only sees Neagley every couple of years, she is a constant in his life and he trusts her completely.

The relationship is a special one, Ritchson said.

"How often do we get to enjoy relationships that are not fueled by sexual tension? It's really refreshing and gives us something to aspire to that we can really mutually respect one another in all our quirks, all our weirdness and not have something else going on," he said.

Sten described Neagley as a sniper whose fighting skills and martial arts training make her essential on a mission.

She read Child's Reacher books to prepare for her role and was happy to carry over and develop in Season 2 the character work she began in Season 1.

The actress' goals were "diving deeper, trying to get under the shell and find the humanity in her," Sten said, adding it seemed important to find out why Neagley does what she does and who she is on an emotional level.

"We don't see her operate in that space at all, so, for me, that's what I gravitate to," she said. "It's so lovely to play with that dichotomy of heart and this quirky and endearing, almost like this childlike behavior, with the badass-murder-Army-killer person. It's a good dynamic.

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Reacher also is not just an expert fighter and physically fit ex-soldier, but he also is a brilliant strategist and problem solver.

A lot of Reacher's knowledge comes from life on the road, but not all of it.

"I don't think you can be an everyman and 'MacGyver' every situation unless you have a great understanding of other people's worlds. I think you either wander like he does or you experience it through books," Ritchson said.

The Reacher character is an avatar for the author of the books on which the TV show is based, the actor surmised.

"He brags to me about his 8-foot couch, on which he can fully recline, even though he is 6-foot-5 and he enjoys a book a day [on it]," Ritchson said.

"He said the only time he wouldn't read a book every day was when he would take three months off to write a Reacher novel and, even then, he would break it up with certain books to help keep the juices flowing."

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