CRUISE AND MCQUAR­RIE

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One clings to planes for fun. One makes the other cling to planes for fun. We chat with the guys who put the MVP in, erm, Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble.

Tom Cruise and Christo­pher Mcquar­rie have made nine movies to­gether. Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble Fall­out may just be their mas­ter­piece. In an ex­clu­sive joint in­ter­view, they tell us how they did it, and why they’re not stop­ping there

that Tom Cruise and Christo­pher Mcquar­rie can read each other’s minds, but it wouldn’t come as a great sur­prise. The duo have worked to­gether so closely over the last decade, dur­ing which time Mcquar­rie has grad­u­ated from one of the best writ­ers around to one of the best di­rec­tors, that over the course of our con­ver­sa­tion with them they fin­ish each other’s sen­tences. Just like an old mar­ried cou­ple. In Hol­ly­wood terms, ten years is a life­time, but their cre­ative part­ner­ship isn’t slow­ing down any time soon. They’ve col­lab­o­rated on nine films, in­clud­ing Edge Of To­mor­row and Jack Reacher, and are cur­rently on Top Gun: Mav­er­ick, with Cruise top gun­ning again and Mcquar­rie top pen­ning.

But we’re here to talk about their crown­ing glory, the flat-out ac­tion mas­ter­piece that is Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble Fall­out. The sixth Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble movie saw Cruise break a fran­chise rule by bring­ing back a di­rec­tor for a sec­ond help­ing, but the gam­ble paid off hand­somely, with stunts that, even

by Cruise’s stan­dards, were im­pres­sive. Though he also came close to de­rail­ing ev­ery­thing when he broke his an­kle dur­ing a stunt gone right in Lon­don last year. We talked about that, and more, in a frank and funny hour-long con­ver­sa­tion that sheds light on why they might be the safest pair of hands in block­busters right now. This will only take four or five hours.

Christo­pher Mcquar­rie: That’s noth­ing for us, dude. That’s a walk in the park. Not even half a script ses­sion.

I’m go­ing to start with a tough one. Fall­out is the big­gest Mis­sion to date. Crit­ics went nuts, it’s in our top ten of the year. You must be fairly happy with how it turned out.

Tom Cruise: You’re al­ways happy and there’s re­lief and joy in see­ing a re­sponse. I make movies for au­di­ences, and to see how much they’re en­joy­ing them­selves, that’s re­ally in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing.

Mcquar­rie: There’s also a mild layer of ter­ror, know­ing we have to outdo it.

Cruise: It’s al­ways that way. We al­ways start that way. You have that slight bit of

nau­sea as you’re go­ing, “Okay, let’s go.” That’s the way we al­ways feel be­fore­hand, be­lieve me. Did that feel­ing of mild ter­ror drive Fall­out?

Cruise: You al­ways feel it. On ev­ery movie, I want it to ful­fil its po­ten­tial. There’s that won­der­ful feel­ing. It’s ac­tu­ally this plea­sure/ter­ror/pain/ ex­cite­ment of cre­at­ing some­thing. It’s that adren­a­line and fo­cus that I think MCQ and I have to­gether. We just keep hav­ing fun with the pres­sure, and cre­at­ing it. We have a say­ing: “Pres­sure’s a priv­i­lege.” Like on Rogue [Na­tion],

I couldn’t fig­ure out the third act.

It’s al­right, pres­sure’s a priv­i­lege. Now we’ve got to fig­ure this out.

Mcquar­rie: We get to do this. We get to have this prob­lem.

Cruise: If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t feel like this. Tom, this is your sixth Mis­sion. Chris, it’s your third. Cruise: And our ninth film to­gether. Top Gun’s our tenth. Does it get eas­ier mak­ing one of these gi­ant jug­ger­nauts?

Cruise: In some ways yes, and in some ways no. It gets clearer.

Mcquar­rie: We now have the col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of three movies. You can now look at three Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­bles and go, here’s where we were in our own way. Here’s where we were mak­ing things harder than they needed to be, more

com­pli­cated than they needed to be, big­ger than they needed to be. And you’re able to stream­line it and you’re able to look at a hand­ful of movies now and go, “Boy, we thought it needed to be big and spec­tac­u­lar and re­ally what it needed was story and char­ac­ter and sto­ry­telling.” That’s king.

Cruise: Story is king. That’s some­thing we al­ways talk about. With each one, we have dreams of what we want it to be in the fu­ture. You look at what MCQ did at the end of the movie, and you see the scale of the film. But also the per­sonal na­ture that we’re al­ways reach­ing for with a Mis­sion. Each one we try to re­mind our­selves what we’ve learned. That doesn’t mean we’re there. There’s times in the edit­ing room where we’re like, “Fuck, we had this rule…” You know? “We agreed we wouldn’t do this!”

Mcquar­rie: “We swore we would never do this!”

Cruise: Then we have to go back and pick it up!

Mcquar­rie: “Why did you let me do that?”

Cruise: “I was there, why didn’t you re­mind me?” You know? [Laughs]

Jim Gianapou­los [Para­mount chief ] is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him since I was a kid, ba­si­cally. This was his first Mis­sion. He was like, “Okay, where’s the script?” “We don’t have it. But we’ll get it. We have the lo­ca­tions.” We said, “Look, we’re not go­ing to go over-bud­get — this is how you make a Mis­sion.”

Mcquar­rie: That was re­ally the les­son we learned from Rogue. We were re­ally strug­gling with the third act and what we ul­ti­mately re­alised was that ev­ery scene that was work­ing in the movie was work­ing be­cause we knew the lo­ca­tion be­fore we re­ally fig­ured out the scene. We sim­ply couldn’t find a lo­ca­tion for the third act of the movie, and we had a con­cept for the third act that we were stick­ing to be­cause we thought that was a rule. We thought that Ethan and the vil­lain had to have a big cli­mac­tic fight, and he had to kill the vil­lain, like you do in ev­ery ac­tion movie. When we let that go, the whole movie came to­gether. So we took that process and ap­plied it to Fall­out. We said, “Let’s know what all the lo­ca­tions are. Let’s not find our­selves in that trap again.” Then in the mid­dle of the movie, we were re­ally strug­gling be­cause there was a scene we re­ally liked and we were try­ing to get it in the movie. We turned to each other at some point and went, “Didn’t we learn this last time? Didn’t we say, ‘Never again’?” One of the things we say to each other all the time, shoot­ing the he­li­copter se­quence or the car chase or shoot­ing some­thing that’s never been done, is, “You know, we’ll know ex­actly how to shoot this on the last day.” We’ll know this shit in­side and out.

Cruise: In­vari­ably that’s where we are.

Mcquar­rie: It feels like when we make our last Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble, we’ll know…

Cruise: How to do it all.

Mcquar­rie: Each one is get­ting us a lit­tle closer to the last one. Of course, I don’t know where that ends.

Cruise: No!

Mcquar­rie: I’m ter­ri­fied to think of what that ac­tu­ally means.

It ends 40 years from now, with us do­ing the same phone call, but in space.

Cruise: [Laughs] Ex­actly! Ex­actly! Mcquar­rie: And, weirdly, Tom will have not aged. You’ll have to make out my words over the wheeze of my res­pi­ra­tor, and Tom’s tread­mill. Chris, you once told me that when you were prep­ping this movie, Tom pointed at some­thing and said, “I want to fall off that.” I’m guess­ing that was Pul­pit Rock in Nor­way [which dou­bles for a Kash­mir cliff in the fi­nale]. Mcquar­rie: Yes.

So how does that fac­tor into the de­vel­op­ment of the script? Cruise: It’s a di­a­logue that MCQ and I have. Even now as we’re work­ing on Top Gun, we’ll just start talk­ing about dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter mo­ments and story and cool lo­ca­tions or things we’d like to see. Things we’d like to do. Mcquar­rie: Things we’ve seen in other movies where it’s a great idea, but they had to fake it. How would you do it for real? How could you take that idea to the next level? But also, al­ways try­ing to fig­ure out a way to im­bue it with story. How do you take some­thing spec­tac­u­lar

and not rely on spec­ta­cle? It’s amaz­ing how quickly peo­ple numb to the unique and the novel. They see some­thing and it’s re­ally spec­tac­u­lar, but un­less you in­vest them in it…

Cruise: It’s a very in­ter­est­ing thing. Harold Becker and Stan­ley Jaffe did a won­der­ful thing for me when I was do­ing a film at the be­gin­ning called Taps. I had one line and they up­graded me.

Mcquar­rie: Funny, the same thing

hap­pened on Fall­out.

Cruise: [Laughs] Yeah, ex­actly! I had the one line!

Mcquar­rie: One line! Then I thought, “Well, maybe Tom should say that...”

Cruise: So Harold took me into the rushes. At that time, that was a big thing, to watch the rushes. Be­fore­hand, he said he knew I loved movies and wanted to know ev­ery­thing about it. He said, “These scenes I’m go­ing to show you are go­ing to be in the movie. I want you to try to watch it like you’re the au­di­ence.”

Mcquar­rie: Great ad­vice.

Cruise: It was great ad­vice. I never for­got it for my en­tire ca­reer. To look at it and try to train my­self as the au­di­ence.

Mcquar­rie: You can’t take the au­di­ence for granted.

Cruise: Never. Never take them for granted. Mcquar­rie: That, I think, is the core

of what works in Fall­out and what works in Rogue. We are not try­ing to daz­zle. We’re try­ing to move. That’s a sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence. Does that drive the idea that you’re do­ing your own stunts, Tom? That it mat­ters to an au­di­ence that it’s you do­ing that stuff ?

Cruise: One of my first stunts was jump­ing off the roof of my house when I was about four years old, with new sheets and ropes tied around me. I jumped off the roof. Luck­ily it had rained that morn­ing and I hit this mud pud­dle and as my head slammed be­tween both my legs, I’ll lit­er­ally never for­get it. I knocked my­self out and I thought, right be­fore I went un­con­scious, “My mom’s gonna kill me.”

Mcquar­rie: If the fall don’t kill you, your mother will!

Cruise: So even as a lit­tle kid I was very phys­i­cal. I re­alised that you look at Harold Lloyd, you look at Buster Keaton, Char­lie Chap­lin, Gene Kelly in Sin­gin’ In The Rain, that the phys­i­cal­ity of per­for­mance and how to com­mu­ni­cate ideas through mo­tion is im­por­tant. Look at Sin­gin’ In The Rain. I think you can learn more about ac­tion and story watch­ing that, be­cause in­stantly through mo­tion you can have boy meets girl…

Mcquar­rie: Boy loves girl.

Cruise: Girl loves boy. And I think you see that in the ac­tion and how we de­vel­oped it. It’s story. Why I started to pro­duce Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble is, even from the first one it al­lows us to put the cam­era in places that you wouldn’t nor­mally put it. The CIA scene, you couldn’t have done that scene in Mis­sion un­less I was trained, and trained hard, and re­ally de­vel­oped that with De Palma, to be able to cre­ate that kind of se­quence. How do I put the au­di­ence on the edge? How do I in­vest them in a story? How do I do it as an ac­tor?

Mcquar­rie: Most im­por­tantly, when an ac­tor is re­ally do­ing it, I can be on

that ac­tor’s face and I can see them ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it. When an ac­tor’s not do­ing it, I’m on that ac­tor’s back and I’m see­ing what they’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, but I’m not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it. I’m not ac­tu­ally jump­ing out of a plane. The stunt­man is. But when you’re look­ing at Tom and Tom’s jump­ing out of that plane, Tom’s re­act­ing to some­thing you’re not even see­ing yet. You’re look­ing be­hind him and you’re see­ing some­thing he’s not see­ing. You’re look­ing at the plane go­ing away from him. You’re hav­ing your own in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ence, he’s hav­ing his, and it puts the two of you in it to­gether. Cruise: I’ve been do­ing this, and train­ing for it, my whole life, ba­si­cally. I re­mem­ber early on, when I was do­ing this, stu­dios were like, “What are you do­ing? Why do you need so many months in prepa­ra­tion?” They didn’t un­der­stand. So I lit­er­ally have ed­u­cated the stu­dios on how I do this, and what I do.

Tom, in this movie you did the HALO jump, you flew a he­li­copter for real, you jumped from rooftop to rooftop in Lon­don, you raced through Paris on a mo­tor­bike with­out a hel­met. Are you sin­gle-hand­edly re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery grey hair on Chris Mcquar­rie’s head? Mcquar­rie: Yes! I will an­swer that. My wife will an­swer that.

Cruise: [Laughs] Yes! Yes! Did you see the open­ing of Rogue? When I’m in the box and it’s smok­ing? As my hand is go­ing down, “Writ­ten and di­rected by Christo­pher Mcquar­rie”? He’s do­ing it to me, too! One per­son said, “Chris Mcquar­rie — Tom en­abler!”

Mcquar­rie: I may have the grey hair, but I don’t have the bruises.

Cruise: And the bro­ken bones!

Mcquar­rie: I think the worst phys­i­cal in­jury I’ve had on a Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble movie might be a pa­per cut. When I tried to play hard like Tom, we went rac­ing go-karts. I had a ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent on the go-kart and re­ally fucked my­self up. I re­alised that other peo­ple should drive these. I should just look at the mon­i­tor and en­trust the pro­fes­sion­als to drive.

Cruise: I gave him a gift of the mo­tor­cy­cle from the Paris chase.

Mcquar­rie: The most gen­er­ous gift. An amaz­ing gift. Now I have to learn how to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle. Or I have to buy the sort of home in which that’s ap­pro­pri­ate.

Did you keep any­thing, Tom? Mcquar­rie: We made him a mask of Wolf Bl­itzer, and pre­sented it to him in a glass box.

Cruise: The Wolf Bl­itzer head! Mcquar­rie: I’ve got the book with the tape recorder in it.

Cruise: You got the book?

Mcquar­rie: I try to take one thing from ev­ery movie I make.

Cruise: You have to.

Mcquar­rie: The only one I re­gret that I couldn’t get my hands on was the lighter from The Usual Sus­pects. Keyser Söze’s lighter.

Cruise: Oh my gosh.

Mcquar­rie: It dis­ap­peared. I’ve al­ways re­gret­ted that. I have Stauf­fen­berg’s glass eye.

Cruise: Do you re­ally?

Mcquar­rie: Yeah. His glass eye. In the lit­tle case. I’ve got the pair of pli­ers and one of the fuses.

Cruise: That’s cool.

Mcquar­rie: I have the bul­letin board from The Usual Sus­pects.

Cruise: Do you re­ally?

Mcquar­rie: Yeah. With a lot of the stuff from the bul­letin board on it.

Cruise: The lighter from Keyser Söze, that would have been…

Mcquar­rie: I knew when I wrote it, I wanted it. I told the prop guy, “I gotta have this.” But it’s gone. The lighter is out there some­where. I don’t know where it is. Tom, now would be the per­fect time for you to say that you have it. Cruise: I wish I did. I was look­ing for the orig­i­nal watch I wore as Mav­er­ick in Top Gun. Jerry Bruck­heimer had kept it. Mcquar­rie: Re­ally?

Cruise: So I’m able to wear that watch. Mcquar­rie: How cool.

Cruise: The orig­i­nal watch from

33 years ago.

Mcquar­rie: Oh, that’s cool.

Cruise: Jerry kept it. And I have the orig­i­nal jacket from Top Gun. Tom, you had an un­ex­pected break dur­ing this movie. What was go­ing through your mind at the time? Cruise: “Ouch.” Ouch. Ouch.

Mcquar­rie: In big cap­i­tal let­ters.

Cruise: I just re­mem­ber, it was the only take where I got it right. Where I held the side of the wall. I was hit­ting it so hard on the two pre­vi­ous takes and I knew in­stantly the an­kle was bro­ken. I thought, “Well, I’d bet­ter get over here and run past the cam­era be­cause we’re not go­ing to be able to come back and get this.” And then we were back there, 11 weeks later. That was just the be­gin­ning of the sprint­ing. I worked seven days a week, ten, 12 hours a day to heal it. Train­ing, heal­ing.

Mcquar­rie: I’ve never wit­nessed pro­fes­sional heal­ing be­fore.

Cruise: I re­ally had to. Heal­ing was my full-time job. Oth­er­wise we’re not go­ing to make the re­lease date. I re­mem­ber, run­ning across the train sta­tion, that shot ev­ery time we watched it in the pre­views I was lean­ing across to Chris and go­ing, “Ow ow ow ow ow ow.” The an­kle was still bro­ken. All the run­ning, all the sprint­ing in the movie, my an­kle is still bro­ken.

Mcquar­rie: Ev­ery­thing you’re watch­ing is one set-up. We had four cam­eras. Ev­ery cam­era got just what it needed. How lucky that was. There was no way we could come back and get it.

Cruise: It also al­lowed us a lot of time in the edit­ing room and we worked stuff out. I was like, “Kiss the an­kle. Kiss the an­kle.”

Mcquar­rie: The an­kle that saved Mis­sion.

This part­ner­ship has been go­ing on for a decade. How have you not killed each other?

Cruise: Didn’t you see the movie? He’s try­ing to kill me!

Mcquar­rie: Why do you think Henry Cav­ill says, “Why won’t you just die?” I need a va­ca­tion!

Cruise: He doesn’t need a va­ca­tion. We were at the premiere in Paris. The cred­its were rolling, ev­ery­one’s ap­plaud­ing, and I looked at MCQ and said, “We can do bet­ter.”

Mcquar­rie: I was like, “You son of a bitch.” It’s true, though. We can. CHRIS HE­WITT

Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble Fall­out.Above: Ethan Hunt (Cruise) with CIA as­sas­sin Au­gust Walker (Henry Cav­ill).

Left: Christo­pher Mcquar­rie and Tom Cruise be­hind the scenes of

Top: Cruise and Mcquar­rie on set pre­par­ing to shoot the he­li­copter ac­tion se­quence. Above left:A leap of faith for Cruise and a bro­ken an­kle as a con­se­quence.

Above: Cruise and Mcquar­rie share a laugh. Left: Walker gets to do some high fly­ing shoot­ing.

right: Be­hind-the scenes shot of Mcquar­rie and crew film­ing Cruise on a mo­tor­bike sans hel­met. main: Cliffhanger: Cruise hangs high up off of Nor­way’s Preikestolen (Pul­pit Rock).

Left: For­mer MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Re­becca Fer­gu­son) has great gun con­trol. Top right: Se­ri­ous times for agents Dunn and Stick­ell.

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