Director Christopher McQuarrie previously revealed that a flashback segment that would have de-aged Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One was briefly considered.
Now, McQuarrie is saying that the same segment — set in 1989 — also considered offering Julia Roberts a small role as a de-aged version of herself.
Speaking on the Empire Spoiler Special podcast episode, McQuarrie said Roberts was envisioned as agent Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) lover. But the sequence was scrapped altogether, McQuarrie said, because he felt that the audience would be feeling “too distracted by how an actor that I had known for however long was now suddenly this young person.”
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Tom Cruise Was Considered For De-Aging In Opening Sequence Of 'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning'
Mariela Garriga eventually played the role in flashback. The film uses brief glimpses into Ethan Hunt’s life before he joined the IMF.
“I said, ‘OK, if I were doing this sequence, it would be Tom in, say, 1989. It would be Tony Scott’s ‘Mission: Impossible.’ That’s who would have been directing the movie before Brian De Palma, you know, in that era,” McQuarrie said on the podcast. “We looked at Days of Thunder and we looked at the style of it, and we started thinking what would it look like if Tony Scott had shot this, and who would it have been? I looked back at who was the ingenue, who was the breakout star in 1989? And right around then was Mystic Pizza. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. Julia Roberts, a then-pre-Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, as this young woman.’”
He continued, “The only way I could have seen doing the sequence justice [using de-aging] was to somehow convince Julia Roberts to come in and be this small role at the beginning of this story. And of course, as you’re conceptually going through it, you’re like, ‘Now all anybody’s going to be doing is thinking about the de-aging of Julia Roberts, and Esai (Morales) and Tom, and Henry Czerny.’”
Costs also played into the decision.
“I got the bill for de-aging those people before their salaries were even factored into it. And if you put two of them in a shot together, or three of them in a shot together, it would have been as expensive as the train by the time we were done. It was so … the force multiplier of — and the way we shoot scenes, and the fluidity, and the camera movement. And of course, that wouldn’t be the style of the movie in 1989. That wouldn’t make sense if you were shooting an ’89 ‘Mission’ like a 2023 ‘Mission.’”
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