'Jack Ryan': Wendell Pierce dodged a bullet for Season 2 after CBS canceled sitcom 'The Odd Couple'
Since Pierce was the only actor capable of stepping into the shoes of the CIA mentor's role, it would have been sad if he had to leave the show in Season 2
Wendell Pierce is the only other actor, apart from James Earl Jones, to play the character of Jim Greer in Tom Clancy's 'Jack Ryan'. Greer is the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence who personally recruited both John Clark and Jack Ryan into the CIA, and later on, becomes Ryan's closest friend and mentor. Jones played the role opposite Alec Baldwin in 'The Hunt for Red October' and Harrison Ford in 'Patriot Games' and 'Clear and Present Danger'.
While Pierce brought his own charisma to Greer's character in the new Amazon series, co-showrunner Carlton Cuse had revealed to Digital Spy earlier that there were high possibilities of Pierce going off the board for the second season.
Pierce had managed to shoot for Amazon's 'Jack Ryan' Season 1 while he was still under contract with comedy series 'The Odd Couple', starring Matthew Perry. Had the comedy show been renewed for a fourth season, Pierce would have had to leave his role as Ryan's mentor. Cuse said, "They had the first position availability, so it was really unclear whether we could actually get him."
Since Amazon was reluctant to sign an actor already in "second position to another series", Cuse mentioned that the producers had to gamble about the durability of 'The Odd Couple'. "We had to gamble that The Odd Couple was gonna get canceled – my intel suggested that it was, but of course, I didn't really know [for sure]." Fortunately, CBS took off the Matthew Perry-Thomas Lennon-led comedy after the third season, which was wrapped up in just 13 episodes. Cuse added that they got lucky because Amazon was willing to take the risk of signing Pierce.
My face on the Odd Couple stage door has been painted over with green paint.I think it's safe to assume that we have been cancelled.#subtle— matthew perry (@MatthewPerry) April 10, 2017
"We were really fortunate that Amazon was willing to take the gamble on him, and we cast him with the real possibility that if that show got picked up, we would have had to recast him in the second season, which would have been really unfortunate," he said.
Although Pierce was ultimately freed of his responsibilities towards the sitcom, Cuse maintained that it has been an "arduous journey" since everyone had already pictured Pierce as the perfect fit for Greer's character. Co-showrunner, Graham Roland, said, "The only person that'd ever played Jim Greer was James Earl Jones. That comparison, and stepping into those shoes, is super-daunting, so we needed somebody like Wendell to take up that mantle."