Ten Quick Questions for Tom
KW: What was the inspiration behind this third installment?
TC: I remember as a kid, I would cut grass and dig ditches so that I could have the money to go the movies to see the ones I liked several times. I thought about the potential of this to give an audience a summer experience. I want to kick off their summer.
KW: What makes MI 3 special?
TC: I really wanted this one to be more personal. When I started Mission: Impossible, I had never done sequels. But with this, there's always the potential of a new adventure to go on. I'm fascinated by this genre. And when J.J. Abrams came on board, I was so excited, because I had seen his work before. Here's this filmmaker who also loves this genre, knows it better than anyone, and has this incredibly unique voice. He can tell a story in the way of the great pulps of the Twenties and Thirties. Very tight, layered, relevant and resonant, but not pretentious.
KW: As a producer, how do you go about handing the reins of the Mission: Impossible franchise to a first-time director?
TC: Hey, this is J.J. Abrams. When J.J. came on, I said, ’Look, there's no constraints. I want to know what you want to do with this. I believe in you as a filmmaker.’
KW: Were you a very hands-on producer?
TC: When I work, I'm the actor. I'm going to do my job. I'm not going to direct the movie. If I wanted to direct it, I would direct it. I wanted J.J. Abrams to direct Mission: Impossible. I work with people that I respect. I expect them to do their jobs, and I will do mine. And I am there as a producer to help in any way, but no one makes a movie by themselves. It's a collaboration.
KW: How do you find your comfort level with a director?
TC: It's understanding J.J.'s vision. What does he want? Are we aligned? And to keep that alignment there. I do want that chemistry when I'm working, that contribution to the story. I felt that with Steven [Spielberg], and I felt that immediately with J.J. That's what it's about.
KW: What sort of chemistry did you share with J.J. collaborating on this film?
TC: It was fun creating it together, and designing it. Every time J.J. would create a sequence, I was like, ’Man, I can't wait to figure out how we're going to do this.’ And that's part of the fun of it.
KW: So, you two focused on choreographing the action sequences together?
TC: We didn't talk about the action sequences. The action was fine. Action was actually the last thing we talked about with Mission: Impossible. Not the first thing. We made an agreement not to discuss any action sequences, at all, until we nailed the story. My intention and my hope was always to add more to the personal aspects of the picture.
KW: J.J. wrote as well as directed.
TC: He has an enthusiasm about everything. He is literally a creative force. He creates art all the time, writing’ drawing’ And his ideas and discipline of storytelling and structure are always right on track. That's what I want in a collaboration. I expect everyone I'm working with, down to Craft Service, the P.A.s, to do their jobs and enjoy it. Let's get real, I have the best, I can't even call it a job, the best life in the world. I get to do something that I love. I think it's a privilege to be able to make movies. That's something that I have never taken for granted. And I get that with J.J. So, yes, I do want that chemistry. That's what I'm looking for.
KW: How did Michelle Monaghan come to play your wife?
TC: I met her when I was shooting War of the Worlds. She's just a lovely, talented actress, and very real. And she brings an obvious beauty, and a real sense of decency and humanity. You just want to be around her. You enjoy being around her.
KW: And how did you settle on Philip Seymour Hoffman as the villain?
Look at his range, from the nurse in Magnolia to’ just look at all of his
characters. He's just one of the great American actors. Here, you see him play
this bad guy who is a badass. This guy is beyond tough, and it was so much fun
playing the scenes with him.