Few franchises are as exciting as the Mission: Impossible series. With each new entry, the movies are pushing the envelope with their stunts and action sequences with star Tom Cruise at the center of it all. It's hard to believe it all started with a relatively small spy thriller in 1996.
The original Mission: Impossible introduced superspy Ethan Hunt who finds himself betrayed and alone after a mission goes wrong. Though a much different film than the sequels that would follow, Mission: Impossible is a suspenseful and thrilling ride that helped kickstart an epic series. Here are some hidden details you might have missed in the original Mission: Impossible.
10 Ethan Hunt
Tom Cruise was already a massive star at the time of the first Mission: Impossible but was his biggest hit to date. Though he had not previously had any franchise films, Ethan Hunt would become one of his most memorable roles having played him in six films to date and more on the way.
However, there were several other high-profile actors who were approached for the role before Cruise made it his own. George Clooney was reportedly offered the part but turned it down to make One Fine Day. Other actors who were considered include Bruce Willis, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, and John Travolta.
9 Original Cast
Some fans of the films might not even realize that they are actually based on a popular series from the 60s. Mission: Impossible debuted in 1966 and centered around a team of covert spies who would carry out secret missions in each episode.
Martin Landau was one of the original cast members of the series and according to the legendary actor, an early script sought to assemble the original cast members from the show as Hunt's team. However, Landau hated the idea that the original team would be killed off at the beginning and turned it down. The idea was eventually scrapped.
8 A New Mission
Though it shared some key elements of the show, many fans would be quick to point out that the film was quite different from the 60s television series. While this angered many fans, apparently that was always the intention of director Brian De Palma.
The studio has initially hired Reza Badiyi to be an on-set consultant for the entire shoot. Badiyi had directed more episodes of the original series than anyone else and it was the studio's hope that he could provide valuable insight. However, on the first day, De Palma told Badiyi that although he admired the show, this would be a new take and he would not be needed.
7 Sleight Of Hand
Tom Cruise has made a reputation for himself for going above and beyond for the Mission: Impossible films. He makes it his mission to do as many of the stunts for the films as he can, no matter how dangerous they might be. As it turns out, that extended to the occasional magic trick.
After Hunt's team successfully steals the NOC list from the CIA, Krieger (Jean Reno) tries to take the disk for himself. However, Hunt confuses him with some sleight of hand, making the disk disappear and appear in his hand. This is not a special effect but rather a real trick Cruise performed on camera.
6 The NOC List
The MacGuffin of this story is the all-important NOC list that contains the identities of every American spy working across the globe. If the list were to fall into the wrong hands, it would mean that all the people on those lists could be targeted.
After Hunt steals the NOC list from the CIA headquarters, we see a brief glimpse at the list and it includes the notable name, Maverick. This is, of course, a nod to Cruise's character in Top Gun. While it's probably just a little Easter egg, it's fun to imagine Maverick got into the spy game himself.
5 Gun Play
The Mission: Impossible franchise is known for staging some of the most thrilling action sequences on film. However, the first film is much more of a thriller without too many of the huge action set-pieces. One noticeable difference from the other films is the use of guns.
There are only a few instances of gunfire in the film and, more surprisingly, Cruise never fires a gun once in the film. Though he gets into plenty of gunfights in the future films, the original showed a much stealthier Ethan Hunt.
4 Emilio Estevez
Emilio Estevez has a memorable uncredited role at the beginning of the film. A real-life friend of Cruise, Esteves plays Jack, a member of Hunt's original team. Ethan and Jack have just enough time to hint at their close bond before Jack is killed alongside the rest of the team during the opening mission.
Though it might seem strange for a popular actor like Estevez to play such a small role in the film, the casting was purposeful. The filmmakers wanted to put a recognizable star in the role as the shock of seeing Estevez killed off so early would put the audience on edge.
3 Train Sequence
Cruise has become such a hands-on part of the making of these films that it seems impossible for a Mission: Impossible movie to exist without him. For many of the movies, Cruise has come up with the insane action sequences himself, including the original film's train sequence.
Not only did Cruise conceive of the idea to be worked into the climax of the film, but he was also largely to thank for pulling to entire thing off. The original railway that was wanted to be used for the scene was denied until Cruise took the officials out to dinner and got permission personally. Cruise also rented the UK's biggest wind machine to simulate the sequences where he is on top of the speeding train.
2 Jim Phelps
Jim Phelps is an iconic character in the Mission: Impossible series. As the show's lead and main hero, Phelps heads the team of spies and actor Robert Graves remained in the role for almost the entire series. For that reason, the film's depiction of Phelps was met with much controversy.
The part is played by Jon Voight in the original film and is introduced as the team leader before apparently being assassinated. However, Phelps returns to reveal he was the villain the entire time. Fans were furious with the treatment of the character and Graves turned down the chance to reprise his role due to the changes.
1 The Ceiling Stunt
Probably the most iconic moment in the original film is the scene in which Hunt breaks into the CIA vault by being suspended from the ceiling. The moment is a precursor to the more outrageous stunts Cruise would do in later films, but it remains an incredibly tense and exhilarating sequence.
Particularly impressive is the moment when Hunt's rope gives way and he is caught inches away from the vault floor. However, when the stunt was performed, Cruise kept hitting his head on the floor each time he was caught. To prevent this, he stuck coins in his shoes to help balance himself out as he was suspended above the ground.