Director's Reel: Edward Zwick Looks Back on Denzel Washington's 'Glory' Moment, Matt Damon's Breakthrough in 'Courage Under Fire,' and More

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back reunites director Edward Zwick with the actor he describes as the “hardest-working man in show business” — Tom Cruise. Not that Zwick is a slouch in the work department either. For the past three decades, he’s balanced an extensive filmography with a prolific television career. We discussed nine of Zwick’s movies for our Yahoo Movies Director’s Reel, starting with 1986’s About Last Night and culminating in 2016’s Never Go Back, which continues the adventures of the ex-military officer.

Based on a popular series of novels by Lee Child, the Jack Reacher movies defy the current Hollywood trend toward CGI spectacle, instead aiming for more grounded, real-world action. “I, for one, suffer from a little bit of superhero fatigue,” Zwick admits. “Tom and I decided very early that we didn’t want to defy the laws of physics. We wanted violence to have a consequence. When you hit someone, it hurts.” Watch the full video above, and read on for some of Zwick’s thoughts about his past films.

About Last Night (1986)
Earlier this year, we named this Brat Pack favorite as one of the essential films of the essential summer of ’86. “The sexuality was so free and open, and the consequence of that was not yet felt,” Zwick remembers. “As I think back on it, there was a certain kind of exuberance. It’s a little different now. In fact, it’s a lot different now.”

Glory (1989)
With a single, defiant tear in this Civil War epic, Denzel Washington established himself as one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men — and won his first Oscar, to boot. Zwick says he deliberately allowed that famous scene to keep running during filming for maximum impact. “When it was done, I looked over and half the crew were crying as well.”

Courage Under Fire (1996)
Matt Damon officially hit the big time with Good Will Hunting, but his small role in Zwick’s Gulf War drama put many in Hollywood on notice, including his scene partner Denzel Washington. “After this scene, Denzel leaned over to me and whispered, ‘Man, I think I better raise my game. This kid is good!’”

The Last Samurai (2003)
Zwick’s first collaboration with Tom Cruise encountered criticism for what some described as “white savior” clichés. But, the director says, the reaction was far less virulent around the world. “In Japan, it was adored. For what it’s worth, the last samurai [of the title] was not Tom Cruise — it was Ken Watanabe.”

Love & Other Drugs (2010)
Although it wasn’t a box-office hit, stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway do make a beautiful couple in Zwick’s romantic comedy. “I knew Jake could be a bit of a goof, and I don’t think audiences had seen him that way before. He and Anne liked each other a lot. It was an opportunity to be very intimate about sex and relationships.”