Highlights from the Collider ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Q&A with Director Christopher McQuarrie

On Monday night, I was invited to the IMAX Headquarters to attend a screening of Mission: Impossible – Fallout followed by a Q&A with director Christopher McQuarrie, hosted and moderated by Collider’s Steven “Frosty” Weintraub. Fallout has been a major hyper fixation with me this year, so of course, I was dying to make that quick hop to L.A. for my last time viewing the film in a theater. After a quick check-in, the attendees were seated and left alone to witness the halo-jump scene in glorious laser-projection.

There’s no official review of Fallout on the site, but I can personally vouch for it. If you managed to avoid seeing it this whole summer, just know that it’s a rollercoaster ride of a blockbuster that never slows down. For popcorn action flick standards, the direction of this spectacle film is so artful and distinct that it made for one of the most memorable and thrilling cinema experiences all year.

The IMAX Headquarters in L.A.

After the screening, Christopher McQuarrie showed up in the flesh to respond to Weintraub’s questions and then opened the floor to our own. A lot was discussed in those two hours. The full transcript can be found on Collider, but I’ve compiled a few of my favorite moments from the Q&A here:

Christopher McQuarrie joked about the “Hollywood Space Race”. 

Weintraub: Have you ever thought about taking Mission to space?
McQuarrie: I think it’s inevitable. (laughs) We’ve pretty much gone to the edge of thereof, so sooner or later, Tom [Cruise] is gonna in orbit. If there’s an actor that’s going to be the first actor in space practically, it’s Tom. Or it’s somebody like Cameron, Nolan, or Tom. It’s gotta be one of those guys. THAT is the new Space Race.
Weintraub: What you just said is actually very true, one of those three.
McQuarrie: For sure!

He also playfully dodged rumors that he’s involved with Top Gun 2.

Weintraub: Speaking of Tom, he’s filming or about to film Top Gun 2. I think he’s filming.
McQuarrie: I don’t know anything about that.
Weintraub: I was gonna say, you do know enough that you might have been in a jet fighter with him the other day, flying!
McQuarrie: What would make you think that?
Weintraub: I would think Instagram is a good giveaway.
McQuarrie: Oh, what can you extrapolate from the Instagram photo?
Weintraub: That someone named Chris could have been in the back of a jet fighter, taking a picture of Tom…
McQuarrie: What makes you think it was a jet fighter? The propeller was very clearly in the photo! Plane! Tom has a P51 Mustang, and I was supposed to go flying on that plane twelve years ago when we started making Valkyrie. Everybody went on this awesome fly; formation flying. And all these P51s, like Tom and all of his…you know? We all have P51s! (laughs) And all the guys from Valkyrie who were in L.A. got to go P51 flying while I was in Berlin with Nathan Alexander looking at pictures of the fun. We’ve been busy ever since, so I finally got to try. If I ever publish anything about where we WENT with the P51, then that’s the story.
Weintraub: I feel like I’m being tricked!
McQuarrie: You brought it up!

Candidly, he maturely addressed his future with M:I and what position he is in after Fallout.

Weintraub: Obviously all of us, and the world would love to see you do another Mission. At the same time, because of the success of this film and what you’ve done in the last five years, you’ve shown yourself as a really gifted filmmaker! And delivered all these incredible things on-screen, it sort of allows you that moment right now to do whatever the fuck you want as your next movie.
McQuarrie: No.
Weintraub: You don’t think so?
McQuarrie: My dream movie is a script I’ve worked on with a friend of mine. It’s a movie that I’d love to do. It’s sitting ice locked in a studio and they will not call me back. We all believe from the outside that there is this life-changing event. The same way when The Usual Suspects – very early in my career, won an Academy Award. I was quite convinced the next day that I got this thing now, and it’s gonna open doors for me! It hasn’t. It holds doors open in my own house! (laughs) It does not open doors for you. What it does determine is that you’ll get paid more money to make what they want you to make. The overwhelming number of offers that I have received are like, “Awesome movie! Here’s what we’d like you to do.” I haven’t had the phone call yet where someone says we will do anything you want.

He explained how he approaches BTS and cut content, hoping it will help those who can’t go to film school.

Weintraub: I believe you said that your first cut [of Fallout] was 2 hours and 43 minutes.  The final release is 2 hours and 20 minutes. Will we get the deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray?
McQuarrie: No. You will get a deleted reel…sort of the hardest shots to cut from the movie, but ones that had to go. I don’t like them [the full scenes]. The reason I talk about them is that if you’re here to listen to me jabber on about this movie two and a half hours later and you haven’t gone to the bathroom yet, then I’d have to imagine it’s because you’re into movies and how they are made. I look at everything I do as this is film school for people who can’t, for whatever reason, go to film school. That’s why I do the DVDs and I do six-hour podcasts. This is everything I learned and everything I wish I knew. Take it all! So that’s why I talk about scenes I’ve deleted. But I have watched deleted scenes on other DVDs and I’m always left with a feeling of “I just drank one glass too many of lemonade.” You watch those scenes, and you always know why they’re cut.

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Christopher McQuarrie and Steven Weintraub during our Q&A session.

McQuarrie expressed why the push for diversity matters.

McQuarrie: I think what’s happening is great.
Weintraub: Absolutely! Diversity matters.
McQuarrie: It’s incredibly important, by virtue of the fact that there are four women in this movie as opposed to one in the last movie, and one in the movie before that. That is a progression from Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow to Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue to Fallout. Actually five, I count Alix Bénézech who is the cop in that scene. All we cared about was that every woman owned their own scenes they were in. When you open yourself up to that, you suddenly open yourself up to different dramatic dynamics. We just simply said women can be in peril. Ilsa is in peril! I was really afraid to put Ilsa in peril in this movie. I thought now I’m going to hear, “Ilsa was really great until you put her in peril. You made her a damsel in distress.” Well yeah, but she gets herself out. Benji is in distress, Tom is in distress! We created for ourselves some simple rules in which we thought about how you give these characters agency in a movie in which they are not the protagonist. What happens when you open yourself up to that, is that at first it feels like you’re creating a limitation for yourself, but it’s actually quite liberating. I think you’re going to see that in the movie industry as they’re opening it up. I think it’s great.

McQuarrie jokingly gave us his take on Cavill’s infamous fist-reload.

Weintraub: Henry [Cavill] said that he’s been collecting the mustache memes, so he probably has a full collection.
McQuarrie: Oh man! First of all, we got a helicopter chase, we got a halo jump, we got a car chase through Paris, motorcycle chase through Paris – Henry Cavill grows a mustache and cocks his arms and gets more traction than anything else. It’s not even a fake mustache, the guy just grew it! And he did this (cocks arms) for free! Friends often sent me trailer reactions for the film. Henry does this and everybody screams like a murder is happening. Tom Cruise is flying a helicopter and it’s real! He’s just doing this! He could be milking a cow! So, sorry – where were we? The first tangent of the night!
Weintraub: When you were on set and he did that during the bathroom scene, at that moment – when did it hit you? Or was it the trailer?
McQuarrie: It was the reaction videos to the trailers. Everyone you looked at reacted to that moment. We couldn’t foresee it. We just thought “Oh look, he just does this thing before he fights!” It was no different than if he just parted his hands. There were other things in that fight scene that I thought Ha! That’s really funny – crickets! You can’t predict it.

We learned about the uncertainty of filming these stunts. 

Weintraub: You have some incredible action setpieces in this movie. Which sequence in the movie did you feel that you are never going to pull off?
McQuarrie: Every one. Tom actually called me when we were in post. He called me in the middle of the night and he was like, “I’m really disappointed…the helicopter sequence could have been better. I feel like I let everyone down.” I said, “No, Tom! The music’s not there, we haven’t done the visual effects yet, the sound design…” The whole time I’m thinking to myself “He’s right. This really sucks and I don’t know if I can keep this conversation going.” We just feel like it needs to be so much more, and Mission constantly teaches us at the end of the day if they care about the characters then it’s going to be alright. I never thought the third act of the movie would be anything more than passable.

No, McQuarrie did not take from The Dark Knight intentionally. 

Guest: During that convoy sequence, it reminded me of The Dark Knight. Was that intentional?
McQuarrie: No, and I get the question a lot about The Dark Knight. I think partly because of Lorne Balfe’s music but also because of shots like that in particular. That was the only place in Paris where you could knock a truck into a river. We looked all over Paris, searched everywhere. I must be honest, I’ve only seen The Dark Knight once and have no memory of it. After the movie came out, someone showed me that and I went “Oh, fuck.” (laughs) But I will say! I really, deeply admire Nolan. That’s a guy that I look at and say that’s the gold standard. I’m not trying to take from him. There are many things in the movie, by the way, people are like, “Was that taken? Was that taken?” Apparently, I’ve stolen from every movie in my subconscious! Nolan did it first and he did it better.

McQuarrie revealed that he has more plans for Rebecca Ferguson in store, even past Ilsa Faust.

Guest: I love Ilsa’s character so much, is there a possibility of a spinoff/standalone Ilsa Faust movie?
McQuarrie: Rebecca and I have talked about it, Jake Meyers and I have talked about it, Tom and I have talked about it. We discussed what would a [Mission: Impossible] spin-off be? We’ve talked about many Mission spinoffs, not just about Ilsa. Mission is so much about the exploits of the character [Ethan Hunt]…so what would the spin-offs be shaped like? Would they still be Mission: Impossible movies? So Rebecca and I were talking about it and I said, “I’ve got a better idea. You’re Rebecca. Like, let’s give YOU your identity.” I’m developing stuff with Rebecca, to be Rebecca. That’s what I would like to see. I feel like if I made an Ilsa spin-off, it would always be like “When is Ethan going to make a cameo?” The thing that is not to be underestimated with the role of Ilsa Faust is that she is played by Rebecca Ferguson, who is a star. A star that not a lot of people have woken up to see…I would love nothing more than to see all of that talent put into a role that is not bound to this universe.

Thanks to my question, it is now confirmed that the legendary Ethan Hunt is actually a total softie.

Me: I really love the character interactions in this movie because they’re all full of genuine love and care, especially from Ethan! In a genre dominated by very sarcastic, mean and angry dialogue, was that a deliberate choice?
McQuarrie: Absolutely! Sarcasm is death. I’m allergic to it. I can’t stand it. It is the cheapest, easiest humor. People hate puns, I hate sarcasm. It’s the worst kind of exposition. Except when Ryan Reynolds does it in Deadpool. It works in that world. It can be done right, but it just wouldn’t fit in a Mission: Impossible movie.

There’s a lot of other great stuff we talked about, but out of respect to our in-the-moment experience, I will leave it up to Collider to release anything else from the night. Again, big thanks to Weintraub (@ColliderFrosty) and McQuarrie (@ChrisMcQuarrie) for making this screening so special. If you live in the L.A. area and you’re interested in attending Collider screenings in the future, keep an eye on their Twitter page! I had a great experience, and I’ll totally be attending more of them down the line. Let’s get this plutonium, fellas!

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