Wendell Pierce Kills CIA Role In Amazon Prime Series
BOSSIP have been avid fans of Wendell Pierce for many years now thanks to memorable roles in ‘Waiting to Exhale,’ “The Wire,” “Treme” and “Confirmation,” among other projects, but his latest role as CIA agent James Greer in Amazon Prime’s new “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” series premieres Friday, August 31. We talked to the New Orleans native about his latest project, working with John Krasinski and becoming a globetrotter. Check out our interview below:
On Filming Internationally:
The past two years I’ve been out of the country I’d say at least half the year, last year and this year and it’s because of “Jack Ryan” and all these other shows I’ve been able to be a real globetrotting traveler of the world.
The favorite thing is to realize how much we have in common. While things are so different in so many different places, it’s really wonderful to see how folks intersect with life. That’s what culture is — how we deal with life, death, joy and sadness and to see how that’s expressed in Montreal and Morocco and Paris and Bogota, Colombia, it’s really fascinating and also connects you with everybody. Travel is a always a beautiful thing.
Also, how Black folks all around the world are connected in different places is really interesting.
On Playing A Black CIA Agent For “Jack Ryan”:
Once I got the role I read the books. I did it the other way around. I was a big fan of the movies and in preparation, as I was being considered for the role, I started reading the books, which was really great as it gave more insight into the character and was also the blueprint to start as I wanted to expand the character even more and the writers wanted to expand the character even more.
I wanted to take advantage of this unique position he’s in — an African American man, a career officer of the CIA. That really said something. We’ve never seen that before. We’ve never seen a black man with his faith, I won’t give it away right now, but it comes up early in the series, we’ve never seen that before.
In my research meeting other African American officers, retired and presently working with the CIA and learning that perspective, one of the first things I said was, ‘How can you reconcile being an African-American and working with an agency that doesn’t have the most stellar reputation in our community?’
And one particular officer, I’ll never forget we actually used it for the show, he said ‘Listen, there is racism in America and there’s racism in the CIA and we want to fight racism. I thought it better to fight it from within.’ That’s a unique perspective. With all of that it gives a unique starting place for James Greer.
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On James Greer And Jack Ryan’s Relationship:
Being an origins series we really wanted to explore how they met and how their relationship grows. For me and my character I see a little of myself in Jack Ryan. Like all men my age we start to wonder are my best days behind me. James Greer is literally thinking that because he’s been demoted because of some of his actions, so he may never be the officer he wanted to be. He sees in Jack Ryan someone who has the enthusiasm, who has the energy, who rejuvenates something in him. With Jack he sees in James Greer someone who can guide him to be the officer he wants to be so it’s a a symbiotic relationship and what’s great about it is people come from disparate parts of life and can actually find something in common with each other. We do rub each other the wrong way sometimes, we’re like an old married couple sometimes, but we see in each other something that we find in ourselves. I love that relationship.
On John Krasinski As Jack Ryan
He’s the perfect Jack Ryan because that’s exactly the kind of guy he is — the guy next door, very affable, charming, bright-eyed bushy-tailed young man who wants to do good in the world but then also has a wealth of talent that can make him a badass too. He has skills and a skillset that can kick a** and take names. It’s kind of reflective of the year that John has had where people only saw him as Jim from “The Office,” but with “A Quiet Place” and now with “Jack Ryan” people are like ‘Wow, I’m seeing a whole other side of him,’ and I know he appreciated that as an actor. I got to do that too. You get to see a side of Wendell Pierce that’s a badass that people haven’t seen from me, so I appreciated that too.
On The Importance Of Women In “Jack Ryan”
Dina Shihabi gives one of the great performances of the year. To have a woman, a Saudi Arabian-American woman it is important to see.
On Amazon Prime And The Rise Of Streaming:
It’s wonderful, it’s really reflective of the time we’re in with all these different streaming platforms and that’s great, but Amazon Prime, what we’re going to do with “Jack Ryan” has never been done before.
We’re going to take it to another level because on August 31 “Jack Ryan,” unlike any other show in the history of television, will drop in 140 countries at one time. A true World Premiere. All the other platforms roll it out from territory to territory, market to market, but we are literally going to drop in every country. I am on this press tour right now speaking with people from around the world because this is a true world premiere, August 31 Amazon Prime will take the streaming platform to another level because you will be able to instantaneously around the world everyone will be able to see it and binge this.
In those first few days, millions, hundreds of millions I hope will be connect and watching our show. For me that is one of the things I am proudest to be a part of. To show a man like James Greer to the world dispels the myth that black talent doesn’t sell well overseas and that we don’t have a true perspective of who black folks are in the world of government and all of that so it’s really exciting. A true world premiere is happening.
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” is available on Amazon Prime Now!