LOS ANGELES - Jack Ryan is the sort of American hero that's been a screen staple since the silent era. Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck have all played the fictional CIA analyst, and Chris Pine joins the list when "Jack Ryan: Shadow One" opens on Christmas Day.
The character was Tom Clancy's version of an American James Bond, said Gregg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter.
Clancy, who died Tuesday at age 66, "wrote these very solid, meat-and-potatoes thrillers," Kilday said. "They offered up a lot of material that directors and actors could work with in fashioning straightforward, semi-patriotic espionage and action-adventure movies."
Each adaptation was a hit: "The Hunt for Red October," `'Patriot Games," `'Clear and Present Danger" and "The Sum of All Fears."
But despite the success, the author's relationship with Hollywood was often contentious. While he enjoyed the exposure, he regretted the lack of creative control.
"Giving your book to Hollywood is like turning your daughter over to a pimp," he famously said.
"He took potshots at a number of films," Kilday noted. "He didn't like that movies like `Clear and Present Danger' and `Patriot Games' didn't simply reproduce the plots of his novels," which were too complex to fit into a two-hour screenplay.
Clancy also criticized Ford's casting in those two films, saying the actor was too old to play Ryan, but appreciated Affleck's portrayal in 2002's "The Sum of All Fears."
Affleck told the Los Angeles Times that Clancy's realism made his books, and their film adaptations, successful.
"When you read one of his books, you had the distinct feeling that he was depicting military or espionage situations exactly as they really are," Affleck said. "Other spy books feel invented, while his feel like genuine accounts of events that took place but that no one knows about. I think the movie adaptations have risen and fallen in direct proportion to how well they kept his sense of authenticity and nuts-and-bolts realism."
Baldwin, who originated the Ryan character in 1990's "The Hunt for Red October," called Clancy a great writer and "a real gentleman of the old school" in a post on Twitter Wednesday.