Actor Tom Cruise recently shared that getting moviegoers invested in the characters and the story of his films is primary to him and his production team.
Cruise spoke with Fandango about the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One film, where he was asked the amount of joy he personally gets from the more quiet moments of the film.
He answered, “All of it. You know, I love all of the moments. I have to say all of those moments.”
“And also when I see the other actors and we’re constantly working with them to — what I love in movies, I want vivid characters. It’s not about me. It’s about the story. And it’s about how do we tell the story to engage an audience into an emotional story and a character journey,” Cruise relayed. “And there’s this other other stuff that we have.”
Cruise went on, “The amount of time that we spend finding the story, finding those moments with the characters, and not just for myself but the actors in developing that stuff. That’s what engages me. And then I want to thrill the audience also with these other things because if you don’t have that it doesn’t matter how big it is if I’m not invested in the story and invested with the characters.”
“And that is primary for us,” he declared.
Cruise then elaborated, “It’s just movies and why I want to see movies. I want to care about the people. I want to be interested in the world. I want to be interested in those people. That is movies.”
“I’m using all of the skills and the things that I love in cinema and all of the dramatic and comedic and all those films and the character development that we have and we’re looking and I’m developing that with all the actors. And then putting it — all we’re doing is putting a big landscape on top of that. That’s all,” he illustrated.
He rhetorically asked, “From any other kind of movie that I’ve done, how do you have that emotion while you’re juggling? How do you have that?”
Cruise then specifically touched on Dead Reckoning Part One, “The thing with this movie that I — when you’re looking at the Fiat and you’re looking at Haley and I, we’re playing those scenes in a two-shot. Now, we don’t have a bunch of takes that we can do. Those characters have to be connected and you have to find those moments like that (Cruise snaps his fingers), and that kind of skill, to be able to play that kind of moment and comedy that normally I get to have in a Jerry Maguire, or a Rain Man, or a Cocktail, where you have that. You’re on the ground doing that, we’re doing it at high speed and having it feel organic because it is organic, it’s happening now (Cruise snaps his fingers).”
“But you have to have actors that first, we have to get’em used to that kind of speed and that kind of pace and that kind of action now,” he added.
He then shared an example from the film, “The scene on the train, it’s like, ‘You trust me? No.’ Those kind of character moments that are real that invest me in these people. And that’s thing.”
He then turned his attention to the character he plays, Ethan Hunt, “Always with Ethan I was like, ‘Look, the key with this character…’ And people are like, ‘Oh, you know, no, he does this…’ He doesn’t want to have to do that. He has to do it. And, you know, when he’s about to go off the cliff and what he’s thinking about, what’s interesting, and what I want in it is that emotional investment as to why he’s doing it and we understand. It’s not just, ‘Ta-Da.’ We’re not going, ‘Ta-Da.’ It’s story that’s getting us there.”
“And anyone that understands that level of performance, that level of storytelling understands like I could have that,” Cruise elaborated. “That’s the same kind of emotional investment that you have in a movie that we’re shooting in a room.”
He continued, “That’s what I’m always looking for. I’m looking for audience engagement, character audience engagement with that. And telling our story. We’re not altering our story or what I want to do, but there’s many different ways where I can push an audience away, or I can pull them into my story. And I can pull them into a character.
“And those are the things that — you know, I’ve played supporting roles and I’ve played the lead roles so I know structurally every aspect of how to draw, how to draw an audience in, and when do I want to draw them in, and when do I want to push them away with those different kind of characters. That’s constantly the evaluation as we’re going through,” he explained.
“It is character development, but it’s the whole story. It’s every actor in there, you know,” he detailed. “When we’re casting the actors, we’re looking at them going, ‘Okay, how do I celebrate their talent?’ Which is in old Hollywood they would look at people and it’s like they built performances for them. That’s what I do.”
If you look at my movies all the way back when I was a young actor. You look at Risky Business , you look at A Few Good Men, you look at Rain Man, you look at these movies, my taste and my development is looking at actors and celebrating them and that it’s us together. Where do I put that camera? How do we write these lines? How do we develop it in a manner that is immersive for an audience? Because then you’re seeing all these great characters. Those are the kind of movies that I love and those are the kind of movies that I try to and aspire to make,” Cruise concluded.
Earlier in the interview Cruise claimed that after every movie he screens he looks at it and says he can make the next one better. He said, “We can do better. Not just every Mission: Impossible movie. Every movie we make I look at it, and I watch, and I say, ‘We can do better.'”
Audiences will find out if Cruise bested himself when Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One arrives in theaters on July 12, 2023.
The film’s official synopsis reads, “n Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: To track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, and dark forces from Ethan’s past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins.”
It concludes, “Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than his mission – not even the lives of those he cares about most.”
What do you make of Cruise’s comments about his commitment to the craft, the characters, and the story?