It has been twenty years since the release of “The Hunt for Red October”, the first film adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel. In that outing Alec Baldwin played Clancy’s hero Jack Ryan and scored good reviews for his performance, while the film itself is easily considered the best in that series and a modern thriller film classic in its own right.
Thus it came as a surprise when the second film “Patriot Games” premiered with Harrison Ford playing Ryan. All these years later, Baldwin has talked about being replaced on his blog at The Huffington Post and the story is different than you might expect. Here’s the key excerpt:
“John McTiernan, who directed ‘The Hunt for Red October,’ told me that during the period of the previous few months [after ‘Red October’ hit theaters], he had been negotiating to do a film with a very famous movie star [likely Harrison Ford] who had dropped out of his film days before so that he could go star in the sequels to ‘The Hunt For Red October’.
John further told me that Paramount owed the actor a large sum of money for a greenlit film that fell apart prior to this, and pushing me aside would help to alleviate that debt and put someone with much greater strength at the box office than mine in the role
I sat there mildly stunned because not only was I in an active negotiation with Paramount, but for them to negotiate simultaneously with another actor was against the law. All of this served to explain why the studio would not close my deal over what I thought were some relatively arbitrary issues surrounding the dates of production.”
Baldwin adds that he doesn’t blame McTiernan but rather studio executive David Kirkpatrick who replaced both Baldwin and McTiernan with Harrison Ford and Phillip Noyce respectively.