In “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” which is the fifth installment of the franchise, Tom Cruise returns as secret agent Ethan Hunt as he reunites with his IMF team to get rid of a rogue organization intent on destroying IMF. Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilsa Faust, another secret agent who can match up with Hunt both mentally and physically. atombash.com had the chance to interview Ferguson when she was in Miami promoting the film as she talked about getting some tips from Cruise, the challenges from doing her own stunts and how she utilized dancing to help with her training.
How did you get this role in this latest installment of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise?
Rebecca Ferguson: I actually did a casting tape for “Mission: Impossible” because I was filming a biblical piece in the desert. They called from London saying, “Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie want to meet you.” I thought, “Wow…really?” They said, “Yes, but they need to meet you in 17 hours because you need to come back to continue filming our thing.” I went back to back to London so I can talk to Tom and Chris as we talked for three hours about everything and did a couple of scenes, along with some fighting moves. I got the part a week later
What was the first day like for you on the set shooting this movie with Tom Cruise? Were you other things on the film before doing a scene with Tom?
Ferguson: They were different things we had to do. One thing was when I got the part, Tom was literally around all the time because this is his baby. He produces it and he is there even if he is not filming. He’s just making sure everything is good and safe. When I got the part, I went to London and then they took me training straight away, where I trained six hours a day, six days a week. He was always there training with me and dancing around, having fun. The first day of filming was jumping off the rooftop of the opera house in Vienna.
How was that?
Ferguson: That was crazy. They said, “You will have a scene where you will be jumping off the rooftop. It’s 75 feet fall.” I had vertigo so basically I couldn’t jump five meters, but they put me in a harness and I gradually worked my way up. It was just stepping over that threshold of fear and I did it. The first jump was really scary as I jumped up and wrapped my legs around Tom Cruise. I know he has done this before he climbed the Burj Tower in Dubai.
As an actress transitioning from a historical drama such as “The White Queen” to a big action-packed movie such as “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” do you approach this role with the same kind of ferocity as any other role or does it depend on what type of role it is?
Ferguson: It is very much down to what kind of character and what is essential for that role that is specific for the film. As you said, “Mission: Impossible,” “The White Queen” and “Hercules” are all radically different. I was just very excited to get into a role where physicality was the ground stone for my character because I’ve never done it before. I’ve danced and I love moving. I figured the more I can move now before I get really old…I just really love doing it.
Did you find that your background in dancing helped with your training?
Ferguson: It kind of did. I’m not a professional dancer at all. I just love dancing…basically anywhere. However, I realized that with Argentinian Tango, there’s a dynamic to the dance and moves where you twisting certain parts of your body to create a “killer thigh move,” which is one move where I jump up on the guy and twist him down.
What was your favorite part of doing some of physical aspects required for your role because you get to shoot guns, fight and jump off of buildings in the movie?
Ferguson: My favorite aspect was being able to do all of that in one film and being able to train and learn the technique around it like putting together a gun, take it apart really fast, holding your breath for a long time and kick ass while looking good doing it with Tom Cruise.
Did Tom Cruise give you any tips?
Ferguson: He answered a gazillion questions that I had. I watched him maneuver around and how he checks safety for himself and for other people. He is very considerate in making sure everyone feels okay. I study people when I work with them. He is a legend when it comes to doing his own stunts so basically you watch him and you learn.
You talked about jumping off building and doing the “killer thigh move,” but what was your favorite stunt to perform?
Ferguson: I actually love the “killer thigh move” per se because there’s such a good dynamic to the move. There’s a flow to it, which I love. I just wanted to keep on doing again and again (laughs).
You guys shot the movie in places like London, Morocco and Vienna. Was there a particular location where you said to yourself, “Wow…I can’t believe I’m here shooting a movie with Tom Cruise”?
Ferguson: I love Morocco and I’ve been to Morocco many times while shooting some films. We were able to shoot in different places including Casablanca, which I haven’t been shooting before. What’s very memorable for me is the first day of shooting. It’s the middle of the night and no one is up except for Tom’s fans watching us film (laughs). We are on the rooftop of the Vienna opera house doing the scene. I’m in this beautiful yellow dress, jumping up on him and the location is spectacular. It’s all lit up and you can see the city from above everyone else. It’s was quite memorable.
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is now playing in South Florida theaters.