Reacher star Alan Ritchson might not have made it far when he competed on Season 3 of American Idol — but the long-running singing competition show opened the door for other opportunities in the actor’s career.
At the time he auditioned for then-judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, Ritchson was three years into his modeling career, which he no longer felt was “satisfying” him.
“In 2003, the show announced it would hold auditions in Atlanta for Season 3,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I made it to the second round in Los Angeles. Even though I was cut, I was enamored of the passion people had there for their art. I decided to stay, and landed TV commercials and auditions.”
This isn’t the first time Ritchson has opened up about his experience on American Idol. On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the actor revealed that he was tricked into filming a fake storyline for Season 3.
“I walked in the door of this hotel and was greeted by 30 lawyers and a 150-page document saying, ‘You’re not gonna tell anyone what happens here,’” he said. “So I signed that.”
According to Ritchson, producers told him to put on his board shorts and meet them by the pool, where they would film a story on him and another female model contestant.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing [to get] screen time,’” Ritchson remembered. “So within 10 minutes of being at the hotel in Los Angeles, I’m down at the pool in my board shorts and they’re like, ‘Why don’t you sit in the hot tub, we’ll ask you a couple questions.’”
After a handful of questions, which he recalled answering “very studiously,” the producers asked him to push the other model in the pool and splash around to “show everybody how much fun it is to be at American Idol.” However, he soon learned that they had an ulterior motive.
On the third night, the contestants were tasked with writing a song, which he was excited about since songwriting was his “first love.” After he wrote his song in “two seconds,” he decided to help the other contestants who were struggling to write their own.
But when the episode aired, host Ryan Seacrest was seen running around and asking everyone where Ritchson was — only to cut to a clip of him splashing around in the pool.
“Like, what the hell? I was helping people!” Richson explained, while Kimmel playfully called the editing “unfair.”
While Ritchson didn’t last long on American Idol, his decision to stay in Hollywood eventually landed him a role in the 2005 film The Butcher, which he described as a “cheap horror film.” He was later cast in Smallville, which ran until 2010. Now, he portrays the titular character in Prime Video‘s Reacher series, which is based on the Jack Reacher book series by Lee Child.
It looks like it all worked out in the end!