Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Director Reveals Tom Cruise's Extensive Involvement

Tom Cruise is a famously hard worker in Hollywood. People who have worked on-set with the actor have told ComicBook.com they're marveled by his drive throughout the process. "When it's time to film, he's on set seven days, and it's go go go," one insider told us. That seems to be the case with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the franchise (that Cruise also produces). At roundtable interview in New York, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie told ComicBook.com about Cruise's involvement.

"With Mission: Impossible, you're dealing with a franchise that's Tom's emotional property as much as his intellectual property," McQuarrie said, emphasizing the emotional part of the statement. "Tom comes to the process saying, 'this is what I want to feel – how would you make me feel that?' He doesn't come in saying, 'No, scene's gotta do this.' He says, 'I want the audience to feel this, or to not know who she is, or have Benji keep this part of who his character is in the other movies. This is the stuff I like about Brandt; try and hang onto that, but what would you do with it?'"

Indeed, they "came to work everyday knowing that what we'd written the day before was not to our satisfaction, and trying to find it in the moment." They'd even start scenes, then see what wasn't working and make a change right there on the spot if necessary.

"That was sort of typical of how scenes would develop, we'd rewrite them in the morning and shoot them that day with having sort of attacked everything with all the pieces in place," he said. In the case of one particular scene, which we won't spoil here, McQuarrie came to the 4-day shoot for the scene without something fairly important: the shooting script.

"I came to work on the first day and said, "I've figured out the scene, but I don't have time to write it. So we'll spend the first day getting Tom to the table. Then tomorrow during the day I'll write the scene, and we'll start shooting tomorrow night." So I pitched the scene, Tom and I riffed back and forth, and I took some notes. I wrote that scene on the second day of shooting that scene; all of what Tom is saying to Lane in the sequence and what he says back to him was given to them that day."

If that sounds a bit chaotic, McQuarrie admitted that it is. But, he stressed that Cruise's involvement is a strength during development, and that he doesn't just bust in on a creative meeting or tear apart a scene without reason.

"It's never arbitrary. It's always because of an emotional result; it's always about character and story. If he reads a scene, when I came to him that night with the scene we had discussed the night before, he was like, 'that's it, that's the scene.'"

McQuarrie said that in their unique, nearly day-to-day writing, Cruise stayed involved, even down to the ending of the movie, which "really wasn't written until about a week before we shot it!" he divulged. He stressed that they never did reshoots, despite "erroneous reports" to the contrary – it was more that they were just unsure. The pair worked on several different versions, including multiple ways for characters to die, survive, kill or be killed, before coming up with the final version. Their ultimate goal was to come up with "a sting that really felt like Mission: Impossible, with Ethan really getting the bad guy, outsmarting him, playing him. We wanted something that harkened back to the original series." The final story meeting, he joked, was like Apollo 13's frantic air filter building scene with a random sampling of moments and set pieces that they wanted to fit in.

"We threw all the stuff on the table and said, 'This is what we have to make the end of Mission: Impossible, so how do we do it?' That's really how we came to those last two sequences at the end."

The pair plan to work together again in the future. "We're always talking about other stuff. The natural inclination is to talk about the sequel to "this" or the continuation of "that," but we want to try to find original stuff. I always approach filmmaking [with Tom] from scenes we want to do. This movie was "we want to do a car chase," we took everything we learned from Reacher and did it better. The underwater scene was building on Edge of Tomorrow. He wanted to do more and I didn't want to, I was saying tank work is horrible and begged him not to, but he said, "no, we can do it better!" The joke was on him because he was holding his breath for three and a half minutes while I was dry!

"So Tom and I are having an ongoing conversation about movies and scenes we want to make, and whenever we think we know where we're going, we usually end up somewhere else.


"But yes, we'll definitely do more. It's fun!"

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is now playing in theaters everywhere.