The actor came clean about the situation to his followers during a live Facebook Q&A from coronavirus lockdown.
Discussing the film that got away, Johnson said: “In Hollywood, actors are kind of like in-a-box. There are actors that can vie for a particular role because it allows for them to have a certain look, skin colour, size, etc.
“Fortunately, for me, there aren’t a lot of guys at all who look like me. So, all of my roles, from the beginning of my career, I’ve been a lucky son of a b***h that they’ve been created and designed for me – except Jack Reacher.”
Jack Reacher is the 2012 Lee Child adaptation directed by Christopher McQuarrie. They reunited for a sequel, Never Look Back, in 2016.
It’s now emerged that Johnson, who acknowledges he “was in a much different place 10 years ago”, was “made [to] think” he had a chance at securing the role because he was the same height and build as the character.
“I got the call saying ‘Hey, you didn’t get the role’ Look, I didn’t even know if I had a shot for it, but the people around me at that time made me think that I did. I felt like I did, I felt like ‘Why not me?’” he said, adding: “Tom was the biggest movie star in the world, and I was not.”
Despite this, Johnson was freed up to create the role of Hobbs alongside Universal in Fast & Furious 5, a role that has helped him become one of the world’s biggest box office players. Just last year, he co-starred alongside Jason Statham in spin-off Hobbs & Shaw.
“I’m positive that the role of Jack Reacher, because it was an established character, an IP that was well known and beloved around the world, that I wouldn’t have had the creative space to do what I wanted with the character,” he said.
“I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher.”