New Mission: Impossible could have featured ’89-era Julia Roberts

Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part I
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Mystic Pizza-era Julia Roberts could have starred opposite Days Of Thunder-era Tom Cruise in a digital de-ageing fest, says Christopher McQuarrie. 

A couple of weeks back we covered a story where Christopher McQuarrie, the director of the new Mission: Impossible sequel, talked about a problem with digital de-ageing that we hadn’t really thought about before. That being, the better it gets, the more likely we are to be admiring the process rather than losing ourself in the story that a filmmaker is trying to tell.

He had a good point, and as far as Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One goes, he instead elected to shoot that film’s late-80s flashback sequence without showing Tom Cruise’s face, therefore dodging the need to use the tech. We’re not sure it really worked given that the scene (without getting spoilery), calls for a real emotional reaction from Cruise’s character and being unable to see his face makes that something of an impossible mission. (So, so sorry).

Still, if McQuarrie had gone the other way and used digital de-ageing tech, we think audiences would have been more than a bit distracted anyway, considering he has revealed that he wanted to pair up a Days Of Thunder-era Cruise with none other than Julia Roberts, taken straight from her brilliant breakout performance in 1990’s Mystic Pizza. 

Says the director, “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.

“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?

“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.’ 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.”

Ultimately it would be the potential costs, not to mention the potential distraction to the audience, that caused the idea to be canned. Still though, we didn’t love the way the scene was eventually executed in the film either.

What would have been the right way to go, do you think? This writer certainly found the better aspects of Harrison Ford’s digital de-ageing in Dial Of Destiny to be somewhat distracting from the film’s opening.

Let us know what you think, but be warned that any comments below could contain spoilers for Dead Reckoning’s opening scene. Digital de-ageing will continue to be a tool that creates ripples of controversy but as AI improves and costs come down, you can expect to see more of it in the years to come.

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