In “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” the IMF has disbanded, and Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is out in the cold. The team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate. These highly trained operatives are hell-bent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet. Here is what Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie said at a “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” press conference in Seoul, South Korea.
What does it feel like to be part of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise?
Cruise: The first film I ever produced was “Mission: Impossible.” I’m very much a student of film. I waited a long time. I had been asked to produce movies before that. It was the first film when I went to Paramount that I wanted to produce because growing up, ever since I was a little kid, since I was 4 years old, I wanted to make movies, and I wanted to travel the world. I love the “Mission” theme song and I love the TV series.
For me, to take a movie and travel the world and go and work with these cultures and an international cast and have this spy thriller that’s not just about character but also action and suspense, they’re very challenging films as a producer to make, creating stories, creating set pieces that serve this character [Ethan Hunt].
For me, I feel this is amazing that this is the fifth [“Mission: Impossible”] film. Every time I make a film, I feel learn something, particularly with “Mission: Impossible” movies, so I’m very excited to be here to be able to present it. Chris McQuarrie was not credited on “[Mission: Impossible] – Ghost Protocol,” but he wrote the structure and scenes of “Ghost Protocol.” To be here today is quite amazing.
Can you talk about that amazing scene with the A400 airplane?
Cruise: When Chris suggested, “Do you want to hang off of an A400 airplane?,” I said, “OK.” There was a lot we had to go through to get to this stage. We had to scout the A400. It actually hadn’t been delivered to its customers yet.
And they’d never had a camera film on the outside of the plane. So we met with the engineers, the test pilots. I’m a pilot myself. So we were going through it, to figure out, “How do we get that shot that’s on the poster right there?”
And Chris had designed the sequence. We did a lot of testing also because we didn’t know what was going to happen to my body when the airplane takes off as the wind came over the wing and fuselage. Also, there were speeds at which I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so we came up with this idea to have special lenses put in the eyes. Then, of course, there was the temperature. It was very cold in the winter in England. And I knew I wanted to wear of suit.
Then, of course, there was the exhaust of the jet engines that were blasting right in my face. Then, of course, there was any particle that was in the air, like a bird strike, that we were concerned about, the G-force on the lens, on the camera. If anything happened, we didn’t want the camera coming back and hitting me. When you see the shot there, I’m wearing a rig, but it’s just a very thin wire attached to it. I’m actually holding on to the side of that. And you can actually see the set there on the side of my feet.
I met with the test pilot. We had to get the right angle, so we were like, “What’s the angle going to be?” I said, “Look, I want my feet on the side of the fuselage, off the side of the wing.” And he was smiling the whole time, saying, “That’s not going to be a problem, Tom.” I get attached to the airplane before the engine starts. And Chris is on the inside of the airplane, looking through a monitor at the angle of the camera.
McQuarrie: And I remember how cold I was, despite having so much warm clothing on. And Tom was wearing a suit. And I remember how powerful the exhaust was coming out of the engines. It made it very difficult to breathe.
It struck me how difficult it was to do this. He hadn’t told anyone. And Tom couldn’t see me because of the contact lenses. And he couldn’t hear me because he had earplugs in his ears, so I couldn’t give him any more direction.
So Tom said to me as loud as he could, he shouted, ‘If it looks like I’m panicking, I’m acting! Don’t cut!” So I knew I couldn’t tell the difference between if he was acting or really panicking. So I went back on the plane and strapped myself in and thought, “Well, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Cruise: No matter what, I didn’t want him to cut, because I knew this was our chance to get it. So I said, “Let’s go,” and the pilot threw the throttles forward, and we started hammering down the runway. I had a hard time keeping my feet on the wing. As we were going down the runway, we were going so fast, my legs kept popping … There was a moment when we were going down the runway when I was thinking, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”
We ended up doing it eight times. Really, it’s for story, it’s for character and it’s to entertain audiences. It’s privilege for me to do that. I kept thinking about the shot and thinking about an audience and wanting to entertain them thinking, “Wow, maybe this will take their breath away. We’ll see.”
Do you feel pressure to surpass yourself?
Cruise: Every time I make a “Mission” movie or other films, people kind of look at me and go, “Well, now what? What’s next?” I think there’s always going to be another mountain. I think there’s something always in store. McQ and I have been talking about some things, but I’m not going to reveal it now. We’ve got some fun things ahead. There are so many things that we come up with when we’re making it. I’m looking forward to it.
What can you say about the plot for “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”?
Cruise: “Mission” is such a fascinating movie. There’s a point when the story has a mind of its own. What we’re really proud of together is that everything wraps up in the story. I love how the story starts one way and it all comes together at the end. There are so many things to juggle in the movie, and I think Chris McQuarrie did an extraordinary job with that.
You do a lot of your own stunts. Do you worry about getting hurt?
Cruise: With each one, I love working on the story and the characters. The stunts, each time, we keep pushing ourselves harder and harder. And they are stunts, so there’s always a danger in doing them, but fortunately, I have not had a problem. I have not missed a day of work, ever, in my career. I’m always there early. And I train very hard, and we prepare very carefully for each one.
You have a movie that comes out almost every year. What inspires you to keep going and not get jaded?
Cruise: For 35 years, I’ve made movies. I feel privileged to be able something that I love to do. It’s my dream to be able to make movies and entertain. And my hours are long. I usually do seven days a week. While I’m shooting one movie, I’m already prepping another movie. And over the years, I’ve gotten very smart about how to prepare for those movies. And that’s what I do.
What’s the impossible mission of making these movies?
Cruise: The impossible mission? I don’t know. They’re all impossible. Every time you start movies, each time, the privilege of being able to work with such talented people. McQuarrie is a dear friend. I have great respect for him. And we’re always pushing, no matter what kind of film we’re making, to think about the audience.
And also, as artists to go, “How far can we push ourselves, and how far can we push this particular genre for the audience and for us filmmakers?” … It takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication, but it’s something that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me because I love it … We have a saying, “Pressure is a privilege.” And that’s how I feel about it.
What’s next for you?
Cruise: Chris and I have several films that we’re working on. I was two weeks into shooting with Chris, and I was like, “What’s our next one?” We are talking about another “Mission” right now. It’s pretty exciting. We’ll see.
For more info: “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” website