Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's Most Climactic Scene Was Written Right on Set
Thoroughly working on your script is important, but being able to come up with something exciting spontaneously? Priceless.
The Mission Impossible franchise is a rare example of each new installment being better than the previous one. Who knows, maybe Tom Cruise's notorious perfectionism and desire to do his own stunts has something to do with that?
But sometimes, perfectionism would step away and make room for some improvisation. This is exactly what happened on the set of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the 2015 MI movie where Cruise's Ethan Hunt had to track down a rogue nation ex-spies — and compete with Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa Faust, being forced to share the spotlight with a much more capable female character.
Remember that tense scene when Simon Pegg's Benji was strapped into an explosive vest and sent to a restaurant to meet Ethan, with the movie's villain Solomon Lane dictating the lines Benji had to say to Hunt? This was basically the climax of Rogue Nation, with the audiences pulses beating so fast they could be heard in the theaters.
Well, that scene was basically written from scratch just hours before filming!
Speaking on Light the Fuse: The Official Mission: Impossible Podcast in 2022, Tom Cruise and the movie's director and writer, Christopher McQuarrie, revealed that the diner scene remained a question mark for the most part of the Rogue Nation's production.
When things became clearer, McQuarrie basically wrote the movie's most climactic scene on his way to the set. The script was so fresh Cruise didn't even have enough time to learn his lines, and the team had very limited time to shoot it.
However, even Cruise, being a perfectionist that he is, was perfectly fine with the final result.
"McQ, when he knows how to write something — like when he feels it like an actor — it's very interesting. Like, when he feels it like an actor, he wrote the scene, he wrote that in like a day. That whole sequence, that structure just fell right into place," he said.
Nothing motivates you more than pressure and deadlines, huh? Well, on the set of the franchise like Mission: Impossible, there's nothing surprising about that, really.