INTERVIEW: Niceville Created Jack Reacher – By Forming Alan Ritchson

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Mid Bay News

Niceville High and Northwest Florida State College grad Alan Ritchson stars in the new TV series Reacher on Amazon Prime.

The show was released on February 4, a Friday, and picked up for a second season the following on a Monday… a lightning-fast decision.The former Niceville resident, NHS Grad and Northwest Florida State Alum talked to Mid Bay News about growing up in Niceville and more.

Moving to Niceville Fl

Alan Ritchson’s journey to becoming Jack Reacher began in Niceville.

And it definitely wasn’t by accident – as his mom, Vickie, tells it. God crafted the plan, down to the goldfish. “We don’t believe in coincidences, it was an answer to prayer, and we were in this house [in Niceville] in a month.”

The Air Force stationed Dave and Vickie Ritchson – now retired airmen – to Eglin Air Force Base in the early 90s. That meant looking for a new house in a new place.

You see, the Ritchson’s make lists for every big purchase they are going to make – everyone chips into the list – parents and kids.

The parents wanted typical stuff – a short commute to Eglin Air Force Base and good schools for the kids.

Well, the youngest Ritchson wanted a goldfish to come with the house.

As Dave, Alan’s dad, was driving around Niceville, searching for a house, a for sale sign was planted in the yard of one home. It was the home the Ritchsons still live in today and it even came with a goldfish.

“We felt that God was behind those things and that we were destined to be here,” Vickie said.

From that house, to Ruckel Middle School and then to Niceville High, Alan crafted his talent for music and theater – earned a state ring in Drama – and learned about the outside world.

“I think… Niceville is such an interesting place because it is so much more of a melting pot,” Alan said about Niceville, “You know, when I describe where I am from and say ‘I’m from Niceville, people kind of laugh. Whether I am in LA, Miami, or New York, it sounds very idyllic.”

While it isn’t a metropolis, Niceville has a lot to offer families in terms of a cosmopolitan learning experience for their kids. “It’s a little more eclectic than people give it credit for because it’s fed by Eglin Air Force Base,” Alan said, “Niceville captures the essence of a small town, where people know each other. It’s hard to remain anonymous, which is what causes many problems in our society now. But there is also a diversity there that I really learned to appreciate all different walks of life. So it is the best of both worlds.”

From Niceville to Amazon Prime

Ritchson graduated from NHS and went to Northwest Florida State College, where he trained in theater arts.

It’s been almost two decades since he left the campus on College Boulevard. Now, he and his character, Jack Reacher, have become household names. In those intervening 20 years, there were a lot of wonderful and amazing times, but there were also trying and painful struggles.

The struggles, Ritchson says, were essential to getting him to where he is now.

To the students at NHS and Northwest Florida State who will be in his shoes in two decades or less – he says the key is not waiting or going through the traditional pipeline. It’s creating right now and putting that creation out into the world.

“There’s a million ways to get your foot in the door,” Alan notes, “But, one way to ensure that you are knocking is by making something on your own. I mean, ‘are you a writer, are you a comic, are you a dramatic actor?’ Either work in theater in a way that people will see that or create your own videos on your own Youtube channel or your own social media channel where you are not trying to imitate anybody else – you are showcasing your own voice- whatever that looks like.”

Thrillist says there isn’t an official release date for the second season of Reacher – I mean, it was just picked up after all.

We’ll let you know when we have more information on what Reacher, and Ritchson’s, next adventure will be.

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