Tom Cruise talks about accepting the mission to shoot Mission: Impossible 7 during a pandemic

Throughout the course of the Mission: Impossible series, maverick IMF (Impossible Mission Force) agent Ethan Hunt has undertaken all kinds of world-saving escapades. Even so, these adventures pale next to the monumental task that faced star Tom Cruise during the production of Mission: Impossible 7.

Cruise accepted the challenge of shooting the latest movie in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and the ensuing production has been worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster in and of itself. These stakes became abundantly clear during a leaked bit of on-set audio, revealing an audibly angry Cruise under pressure to make the crew adhere to COVID-secure guidelines.

The production of the seventh Mission movie was being used as a touchstone for how to steer mega-budget productions through unprecedented circumstances. Little wonder that things got more than a little fractious. The venerable Cruise, by now notorious for undertaking his own hair-raising stunts, has been talking to Empire Magazine about putting everything on the line.

"I’ve produced 30 to 40 movies," he explains. "I am responsible for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of jobs. All my friends in the industry, people that are in distribution, and my crew were like, ‘What are we going to do? I could lose my house!’ So I told the studio and I told the industry, ‘We’re going back. We’re going to get everyone back to work. We’re going to start shooting in the summer. And we’re going to figure out how to do it safely.’”

“It was seven days a week, it was around the clock, just dealing with a lot of high emotions with people, and helping them through it,” Cruise continues. "There was social distancing, there were masks, there were bubbles of crew members – one make-up artist for every two actors, plus heads of departments staying in hotel rooms on their own, driving to set, shooting the scene and then returning to the hotel until needed – and pods of five people, ready to quarantine if anyone within one contracted the virus."

And we thought climbing Dubai's Burj Khalifa for 2011's Ghost Protocol was eye-watering enough. The seventh film is directed by Christopher McQuarrie who has been with the series since 2015's Rogue Nation. In 2018, Fallout escalated the level of stuntwork to truly awe-inspiring levels, particularly the HALO-jump sequence and climactic helicopter standoff.

In characteristic style, neither McQuarrie nor Cruise were about to let the small matter of a pandemic stand in the way of their ambitions. This included shooting in a host of international countries during a travel ban. (Norway is present and correct during a sure-to-be white knuckle fight on top of a moving train.)

“We had to create protocols with studios and insurance companies, and work on laws in each country,” Cruise says. “Assuring them how we were going to film in the country. There were times when people said, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ And I just kept saying, ‘It’s happening. This is a practical movie. You have to think of rigs that are needed to be built. How do we get them built? We had to figure out how to open shops safely. How do we ADR the actors?”

Cruise rejoins cast members Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett and Vanessa Kirby. Newcomers to the franchise include Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Mark Gatiss, Cary Elwes and Esai Morales. Nostalgics will surely get a kick out of a returning Henry Czerny's appearance – his character Kittridge appeared in the first Mission: Impossible blockbuster, back in 1996.

Mission: Impossible 7 has now been scheduled for a theatrical release on 27th May 2022 with the eighth movie set for July 2023. Mission: Impossible 7's original release date of November 19th 2021 has now been given to fellow Cruise vehicle Top Gun: Maverick. Let us know @Cineworld if you'll be activating Cruise Control after so many miserable months of lockdown.