Spy Factor: 20 Things You Might Not Know About MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Spy Factor: 20 Things You Might Not Know About MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996)

Geek Dave misses bein' disreputable.


1. Paramount Pictures, who owned the rights to the television series, had tried for years to make a film version of Mission: Impossible but had failed to come up with a viable treatment. When they thought they finally nearing a suitable treatment, the 1988 Writer's Guild of America strike halted further movement on the project, and in the interim Paramount produced the short-lived 1988-1990 television revival of Mission: Impossible.

2. After the cancellation of the 1988 Mission: Impossible revival, Paramount again looked to bring the franchise to the big-screen. Still devoid of a suitable storyline, a leading man was wooed. Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Ralph Fiennes, and Mel Gibson were all considered as stars. Just prior to Tom Cruise's involvement, George Clooney was offered the starring role but he turned it down.


3. Tom Cruise had been a fan of the show since he was young and thought that it would be a good idea for a film, so understanding Paramount's desire to make a cinematic version the actor chose Mission: Impossible to be the inaugural project of his new production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Crusie convinced Paramount to put up a $70 million budget, even though they wanted to spend no more than $40-$50 million. In the end the film was bought in on time and under budget, at $62 million.

4. One reason Tom Cruise wanted to make the film was because of all the gadgets he could imagine could be involved. Cruise said,
"I felt like I was ten years old again. I thought, What would be the coolest thing to see?"
5. Mission: Impossible went into pre-production still without a script that the filmmakers wanted to use. Brian De Palma had been bought into direct and worked with screenwriters Steve Zaillian, David Koepp, and Robert Towne designing the action sequences, but no-one was satisfied with the story that would make these sequences take place. Towne ended up helping organize a beginning, middle and end to hang story details on while De Palma and Koepp worked on the plot.


6. De Palma convinced Cruise to set the first act of the film in Prague, a city rarely seen in Hollywood films at the time. This would be the first big Hollywood production to film in Prague after its freedom from Communism in 1989.

7. Martin Landau, who portrayed Rollin Hand in the original series, was originally asked to appear in the film alongside many of his previous co-stars. Landau declined and publicly expressed disapproval concerning the film. In an MTV interview in October 2009, Landau stated,
"When they were working on an early incarnation of the first one — not the script they ultimately did — they wanted the entire team to be destroyed, done away with one at a time, and I was against that. It was basically an action-adventure movie and not Mission. Mission was a mind game. The ideal mission was getting in and getting out without anyone ever knowing we were there. So the whole texture changed. Why volunteer to essentially have our characters commit suicide? I passed on it ... The script wasn't that good either!"
8. Peter Graves, who played Jim Phelps in the original series as well as in the late-1980s revival, also expressed concern about the film. Graves had been offered the chance to reprise his role from the TV series, but turned it down upon learning his character would be revealed to be a traitor.

That was the point for Cruise and De Palma, though, they wanted it to com as a complete, unexpected shock to the audience watching. So the duo looked for an actor that audiences would never suspect as a villain, so Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, and Robert Redford were all considered for the part of Jim Phelps, before the producers cast Jon Voight.


9. In another unsuspecting twist and turn, Emilio Estevez was cast in the role of Jack Harmon to create a sense of shock in the audience when he died early in the film. The filmmakers felt that casting such a well-known actor in the role would increase the impact of Jack Harmon's death. Estevez appeared uncredited in Cruise's film, just as Cruise had done for Estevez in the first Young Guns.

10. The script that Cruise approved called for a final showdown to take place on top of a moving train. The actor wanted to use the famously fast French train the TGV But rail authorities did not want any part of the stunt performed on their trains so exterior shots were filmed on the Glasgow South Western Line, between New Cumnock, Dumfries and Annan. Most of the sequence, however, was filmed on a stage against a blue screen for later digitizing by the visual effects team at Industrial Light & Magic.


11. For the actual sequence, Tom Cruise wanted wind that was so powerful that it could knock him off the train. Cruise had difficulty finding the right machine that would create the wind velocity that would look visually accurate before remembering a simulator he used while training as a skydiver. The only machine of its kind in Europe was located and acquired. Cruise had it produce winds up to 140 miles per hour so it would distort his face.

12. As it was his production company calling the shots, Tom Cruise found himself with more freedom to perform his own stunts without the studio refusing to underwrite the insurance on an A-list Hollywood star. Mission: Impossible see Cruise doing most of his own stunt work (and of course he would continue to in the sequels), no matter how dangerous they may be.

For instance the scene that takes place in a glass-walled restaurant with a big lobster tank in the middle and three huge fish tanks overhead was Cruise's idea. There were 16 tons of water in all of the tanks and there was a concern that when they detonated, a lot of glass would fly around. It was originally filmed with a stuntman doubling for Cruise but neither he nor De Palma felt it looked convincing. So Cruise did it himself, despite the possibility that the actor could have drowned!


13. Initially, there was a sophisticated opening sequence that introduced a love triangle between Jim Phelps, his wife Claire and Ethan Hunt. A shot of Ethan and Claire kissing passionately was actually included in the trailer (and indeed in the brief excerpts that flash up during the title sequence of the film itself) but the whole scene was removed because, according to De Palma, it took the test audience "out of the genre".

14. The trick with the disappearing/reappearing CD that Ethan Hunt does to fool Franz Krieger is not a camera trick or any other visual effect, but a genuine sleight-of-hand trick which Cruise mastered during production.


15. Whilst filming the famous scene where he drops from the ceiling and hovers inches above the ground, Cruise's head kept hitting the floor. Eventually a solution was found to balance the actor out - coins were placed inside his shoes!

16. Not only is this the only film in the Mission: Impossible franchise where Ethan Hunt doesn't fire a gun, it is the only one to not have shoot-outs or gunfights. In fact, only five gunshots occur throughout the entire film.


17. As production came to an end, rumors where starting to circulate that Tom Cruise and Brian De Palma did not get along. This was fueled by the director excusing himself at the last moment from scheduled media interviews before the film's theatrical release.

18. Mission: Impossible opened in the USA on May 22nd 1996 in a then-record 3,012 theaters, becoming the first film to be released to over 3,000 theaters , and it broke the record for a film opening on Wednesday with US$11.8 million, beating the $11.7 million Terminator 2: Judgment Day made in 1991.

19. Not everyone was a fan though. Actor Greg Morris, who portrayed Barney Collier in the original television series, was reportedly disgusted with the film's treatment of the Phelps character, and he walked out of the theater before the film ended.

20. One final Mission: Impossible fact for you - This was the last motion picture from a major studio to be released for home video on Betamax video cassette format.

Presumably, before the tape destructed...


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