Jack Ryan Actors, Ranked
The character of Jack Ryan has been played by five A-list actors in five films and in the Amazon Prime Video television series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Author Clancy created Jack Ryan in a series of thrillers that had our hero battle enemies near and abroad.
When we first met Ryan, he was an ex-Marine who went the route of CIA analyst after his military career ended. He was an author, a history teacher, and a professor at the United States Naval Academy. When Ryan was rebooted, he was modernized so his background and credentials would fit the times.
It was the massive success of the late Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels that rightfully brought this character to the big screen. So, let’s take a look at the five actors who have portrayed Ryan and see which one did it best.
5. Ben Affleck
While we appreciate where Ben Affleck is at in his career now, his version of Jack Ryan was probably obscured by the fact he was better known at the time for dating Jennifer Lopez and pushing out feature film bombs such as Gigli. Affleck starred in the 2002 film, Sum of All Fears, as a younger version of Ryan.
In this film, Ryan takes on a terrorist who set off a nuclear device in Baltimore. It was Affleck’s lack of conviction as Ryan that derailed his performance. The film also starred Morgan Freeman, Live Schreiber, Colm Feore, and Bridget Moynahan. Phil Alden Robinson directed the film.
4. Chris Pine
When Chris Pine was handed the keys to Jack Ryan, it was meant to be another franchise as he had just come off of Star Trek. But where they went wrong with Pine’s version of Jack Ryan was that they turned him into more of an action hero along the lines of Jason Bourne.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an origin story that follows CIA Analyst Ryan posing as a Wall Street broker. He is trying to stop a Russian terrorist attack on Wall Street. Kenneth Branagh plays the villainous Viktor and he also directed the film.
3. John Krasinski
It is hard to knock John Krasinski’s take on Jack Ryan, so we won’t. He has done a fantastic job for 3 seasons of the Amazon Prime Video series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. A fourth, and apparently final, season is currently playing.
Here, Krasinski brings the character back to its origins as a CIA analyst with a strong moral compass. Each season has given Ryan a new task, all while romancing his future wife, Dr. Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish).
Krasinski hits where both Affleck and Pine missed, giving Ryan much more believability when using his intellect and going to any lengths necessary. The series was created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland.
2. Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin was the very first A-lister to take on the role of Jack Ryan and he did a fantastic job. Baldwin’s take on the character in the John McTiernan film, The Hunt for Red October, truly leaned into the analyst/intelligence of the character.
He was put in situations where it was brains over brawn until action was required. The only thing that kept Baldwin from taking the number one spot has nothing to do with Baldwin’s performance, but the simple fact he was acting opposite Sean Connery.
The story of the film – Ryan helping the Navy chase down Connery’s Ramius who commands a Russian nuclear sub – steers away from Ryan a few too many times.
1. Harrison Ford
As far as A-list actors go, you can’t get much bigger than Harrison Ford. Ford is the only actor who has played Jack Ryan twice. The first time it was for the 1992 feature Patriot Games and the second came two years later for Clear and Present Danger.
Both of these films were directed by Phillip Noyce. It is hard to put any of the Jack Ryan’s ahead of Ford’s version. No matter what film Ford is in, his command and presence on the screen always shine through.
This was in full effect in both films, which saw Ryan as the loving family man while trying to prevent disaster after disaster. Ford is simply perfect as Jack Ryan.