‘Jack Ryan’ Is Back! John Krasinski on Going Rogue in Season 3 to Prevent World War III

Michael Kelly and John Krasinski - 'Jack Ryan'
Amazon Studios

With two seasons of the acclaimed, action-packed series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan under his belt, you’d figure no surprises would await John Krasinski as filming began on Season 3. But having his seat belt unfastened so he could be tossed out of a Black Hawk helicopter high over the ocean? That shocked the normally steady star.

“The stuntmen did a great job [on the scene] in the morning,” Krasinski recalls. “Then, one of the Navy SEALs we were fortunate to have with us said, ‘It would be a lot cooler if you did it.’ I said, ‘I’m good, but what would it look like if I did do it?’ And he answered, ‘It would look like me unbuckling you right now and throwing you out of the helicopter.’

“And that’s exactly what he did,” Krasinski adds with a chuckle.

That real-life plunge into danger echoes the constant peril one of pop culture’s most enduring spies must deal with this season, whose eight episodes drop all at once. Lured into a mission by a questionable source in Rome, Jack suddenly becomes a central player in a secret Russian plot to upend Eastern Europe. Pursued by well-armed foreign agents and Interpol forces as well as his own CIA — which threatens to disavow and even arrest him — he faces stakes as high as they’ve ever been in the Ryanverse.

“Anything that comes out of this conflict [could lead to] a third world war,” says Nina Hoss, who plays Alena Kovac, strategic-minded president of a Czech Republic suddenly embroiled in a major international incident. “The main thing we work toward is ‘Can we prevent that?’”

Nina Hoss - 'Jack Ryan'

Playing Hunches

Jack’s shadowy source “provides just enough intel to spark his unwavering attention,” executive producers Andrew Form and Allyson Seeger say, leading him to a 50-year-old nuclear weapons program that may be active again. Called the Sokol Project, it was ostensibly shut down during the Cold War, but a rogue group now plans to use small nukes and assassinations to sow chaos, enabling Russia to invade its former satellites and restore the Soviet empire…at least that’s the hunch Jack has, based on his information.

To help persuade the CIA his instincts are correct, Jack relies on his good friend and colleague James Greer (Wendell Pierce), who does his best to convince Rome’s ambitious CIA station chief Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel, Get Out) that Jack is on to something and on the level. Wright wants more hard facts — “She respects and appreciates Jack’s expertise, but she’s got her higher-ups to answer to,” Gabriel says — and sends him to check out a Russian boat in the Black Sea that reportedly has a nuclear device aboard. What Jack finds instead puts him on a cloak-and-dagger chase that ultimately leaves him out in the cold, having angered several governments and the Central Intelligence boss (John Schwab). And after a shocking politically motivated killing, Jack comes to be regarded as a troublesome pawn and a target for foreign operatives.

As Jack’s man on the inside, Greer wants to keep him safe by secretly “making sure he has all the protections he needs out in the world, where Jack’s now taken it upon himself to follow his own moral compass,” says Pierce. And don’t forget: “Jack [once] saved Greer’s life, so he will do anything to protect him.”

Elizabeth Wright, James Greer - 'Jack Ryan'

Their bond is central to the appeal of Jack Ryan. “In the first season, Jack was sort of a Boy Scout and saw everything in black and white,” Krasinski says. “In Season 2, Greer shows him that living in the world of espionage is a gray area, and you have to make complicated decisions. By Season 3, Jack makes the most complicated decision of his life, which is to bet so heavily on his instincts that he’s ready to go on the run from the CIA itself.”

Imitation of Life

That run took Jack and the Ryan crew through filming locations in eight different countries during the height of COVID — “It would have been a feat without the pandemic,” Krasinski reminds us — to produce a series that, while it harks back to a plot from the Cold War, also seems shockingly prescient, given that Ukraine is a Russian target in the show. (“We wrapped before the conflict,” says Krasinski, calling the coincidence “heartbreaking.”)

Also central to the action: Mike November (Michael Kelly, House of Cards).

This is an abbreviated version of TV Guide Magazine’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan cover story. For details on the new season and more, pick up the issue, on newsstands Thursday, December 15.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Season 3 Premiere, Wednesday, December 21, Prime Video