Every Actor Who Has Played Jack Ryan
11 mins read

Every Actor Who Has Played Jack Ryan


  • Jack Ryan has been played by five actors, each bringing their own interpretation to the iconic CIA analyst role across movies and TV.
  • Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and John Krasinski have all portrayed different versions of Jack Ryan on screen.
  • Each actor’s portrayal of Jack Ryan has received praise and criticism, showcasing the challenges of adapting the beloved character from Tom Clancy’s novels.



The actor who plays Jack Ryan has changed over the years. Tom Clancy’s most famous creation has been played by five different actors across movies and a TV series. The name Tom Clancy may conjure visions of console games for some, but spy film fans of a certain vintage know the author as one of the pre-eminent writers of espionage thrillers. Often praised for his devotion to accuracy in depicting military tactics and international subterfuge, the late Clancy is one of few authors who can go toe-to-toe with horror icon Stephen King in terms of book sales.

Clancy’s most popular creation, the character of CIA analyst and eventual deputy director Jack Ryan has appeared on both the big and small screens in different guises. Tom Clancy’s wildly popular Jack Ryan books have been brought to life many times, not to mention the recent spin-off Without Remorse starring Michael B Jordan as another hero from the so-called “RyanVerse.” Most of the movies were successful blockbusters in financial terms. Five different actors have played the central role across these projects, with Ryan’s face changing almost as many times as that of his British counterpart James Bond.


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1 Alec Baldwin

The Hunt For Red October (1990)

Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) and Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) take cover while being shot at in The Hunt for Red October

Alec Baldwin was the first Jack Ryan actor in The Hunt for Red October, a critically acclaimed action-thriller released in 1990 and directed by John McTiernan. The original Ryan remains the definitive screen portrayal for many fans of Clancy’s work, with Baldwin putting in a strong early-career turn as Ryan. The propulsive thriller makes the rookie analyst a go-between for shadowy Soviet forces, his employers at the CIA, and the late, great Sean Connery’s turncoat submarine commander.

Alternately nervy and sharp-witted, Baldwin’s take on Ryan won him critical acclaim at the time and since for finding a balance between the character’s callow uncertainty and his moments of resourceful innovation. Baldwin’s career has bounced between hits and flops since it began, but his interpretation of Jack Ryan remains one of the actor’s strongest outings.

Out of every Jack Ryan actor, Baldwin has gone on to see his career shift more toward comedy and away from dramatic action leads, mostly thanks to his leading role on the long-running sitcom 30 Rock, and his popular impression of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. He does still occasionally pull out a performance that reminds fans of his talents elsewhere though.

Where to Watch The Hunt for Red October

2 Harrison Ford

Patriot Games (1992) & Clear And Present Danger (1994)

Despite being Indiana Jones himself (and the only Ryan actor to play the role in two movies), Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan is one of the more critically divisive iterations as first depicted in Patriot Games. Alec Baldwin was recast as Jack Ryan by Harrison Ford and has since insisted he was essentially pushed out of the role to make way for the bigger name, who brought the beleaguered world-weariness he is known for to the role of an older, more jaded Ryan.

By his (superior) second outing out of every Jack Ryan movie, Clear and Present Danger, Ford’s Ryan was acting Deputy Director of the CIA, and many audiences and critics felt that casting the older actor dropped viewers too late into the character’s career. Ryan’s early, inexperienced adventures comprise many of his most-loved outings, and although the older Ryan is also well-liked, Ford’s lack of uncertainty and inexperience led some reviewers to complain that Ryan was too flawless and uncomplicated to be believable.

In his years since playing Jack Ryan, Ford starred in more memorable action thrillers and also returned to his iconic roles of Han Solo and Indiana Jones. He even returned to play the famous archaeologist in 2023 at the age of 80 years old for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Where to Watch Patriot Games

3 Ben Affleck

The Sum Of All Fears (2002)

Morgan Freeman whispering to Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears

Criminally underrated both as a Jack Ryan movie and an action-thriller in general, The Sum Of All Fears was Affleck’s only outing as the Tom Clancy hero and remains the most unsung Ryan movie. A younger, more Bourne-style Jack Ryan than Ford’s seasoned pro, Affleck brings back the nervy intensity that Baldwin excelled at in the role, and even critics who dismissed The Sum of All Fears as a movie found something to praise in Affleck’s conflicted character.

A post-9/11 Jack Ryan, Affleck’s take on the character is darker, more grounded, and an altogether stronger revision of Clancy’s hero than the movie gets credit for out of every Jack Ryan actor. The Sum of All Fears itself may be an overlong and occasionally uneven outing, but it is hard to fault Affleck’s interpretation of Ryan and the faithfulness his version of the character has to the hero from the source novels.

While Affleck’s turn as Jack Ryan produced mixed results, he’s since taken on an even more iconic hero, DC’s Batman. Affleck’s older, more grizzled Bruce Wayne wasn’t a hit with everyone, but he surprised many of those who were unsure about his casting. Affleck reprised his role as Batman in 2022’s The Flash movie, which is the last time the actor is slated to appear in a DC movie.

Where to Watch The Sum of All Fears


1 Jack Ryan Character Was Saved By Another TV Show Getting Canceled

The Wire’s Wendell Pierce may not have been able to return as Jack Ryan’s friend and boss, Jim Greer, in Jack Ryan season 2 because of one CBS sitcom.

4 Chris Pine

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Appearing alongside Pirates of the Caribbean heroine Kiera Knightley in 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine plays the rookie CIA analyst as a more cocksure and slick character than many interpretations of Clancy’s workaday hero. However, while many felt that this interpretation strayed too far from the Ryan of Clancy’s novels, Pine’s decision to turn him into a sharper, smarter tech wizard does fit with the faster pace of the Kenneth Branagh-directed reboot.

The character was also an overdue change in the era of quipping, self-aware MCU blockbuster heroes. Underrated among fans, out of every Jack Ryan actor, Pine’s cool-headed Ryan is closer to a tech-savvy James Bond than the occasionally hapless hero of Clancy’s novels, but still an interesting rewrite of the character who deserved more than one movie outing to prove his potential.

While Pine’s time as Jack Ryan may have ended prematurely, his career has been busy since, including returning to the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek Beyond, and earning praise for his work as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman. He also returned as Steve for Wonder Woman 1984, although the circumstances around that divided fans. Pine even voiced Spider-Man briefly in Into the Spider-Verse.

Where to Watch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Jack Ryan Code Name Theory Explains The Franchise’s Weirdest Elements

Jack Ryan being a code name for a spy would solve many plot holes and inconsistencies in the movies and TV series based on Tom Clancy’s novels.

5 John Krasinski

Jack Ryan (2018-2023)

Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) in a bunker in Jack Ryan

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
John Krasinski , Wendell Pierce , Abbie Cornish , Ali Suliman , Dina Shihabi , John Hoogenakker , Noomi Rapace , Jordi Molla , Francisco Denis , Cristina Umaña

Release Date
August 31, 2018


Prime Video’s Jack Ryan cast The Office’s John Krasinski as a young Jack Ryan, and the actor brings the nebbish likability he is best known for to the role. Unfortunately, while season 1 reviews were solid, Krasinski failed to convince some viewers that he was a toughened action hero, and one of the biggest mistakes in Jack Ryan season 2 was the hysterical Venezuela invasion.

Despite playing the part of a seasoned survivalist well in 2018’s surprise horror hit A Quiet Place, many reviewers claimed that Krasinski was not entirely up for balancing the endearing inexperience and quick-thinking ingenuity that defines Ryan as such an iconic character. Often veering between being too un-ironically tough and brooding and too goofy and self-aware, Krasinski’s Jack Ryan is another imperfect interpretation of a Tom Clancy character who has challenged every one of the five stars tasked with making him a believable and engaging protagonist.

Where to Watch Jack Ryan

John Krasinski Is Passing The Jack Ryan Torch

John Krasinski's Jack Ryan on the phone

Jack Ryan season 4 was the final installment of the Prime Video series. Out of every Jack Ryan actor, Krasinski was the only one to play the Tom Clancy character on the small screen — but that could change soon. Rumors of a Jack Ryan spinoff series have been circling, and the character it could be focusing on is none other than Michael Peña’s Domingo “Ding” Chavez.

Peña’s Chavez was introduced at the end of Jack Ryan season 3 and will become a series regular for season 4. As a character of the pre-established Tom Clancy universe, the CIA operative has been on missions everywhere from Columbia to Iran, making the concept for a Chavez spinoff show quite an exciting concept. It also opens up the possibility that a new Jack Ryan actor could appear on the show, joining the ranks of every Jack Ryan actor. Chavez has been portrayed on the screen before, played by Raymond Cruz in Clear and Present Danger alongside Harrison Ford.

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