Mission: Impossible - Fallout star Simon Pegg believes the character of Ethan Hunt should never be recast. Since the film series began in 1996, Tom Cruise has portrayed Hunt, and over the past 22 years, it's become one of the defining roles of his career. Cruise first made a name for himself appearing in acclaimed dramas like Rain Man and A Few Good Men, but most moviegoers know him as the daredevil action hero willing to do his own stunts. He attempts to up the ante with each Mission: Impossible film. For Fallout, he learned how to fly a helicopter and dove out of a plane.
Cruise continues to amaze, but he won't be able to perform increasingly dangerous stunts forever. As difficult as this may be to believe, the actor recently celebrated his 56th birthday, and his time as an action star could be winding down to a close. In the event he decides to retire from physically demanding parts, many will wonder what the future would hold for Mission: Impossible. A possibility is recasting Ethan, but one of his co-stars is against that idea.
In an interview with CinemaBlend, Pegg was asked about the possibility of another actor playing Hunt:
No, and I don't think another actor ever could [play Ethan Hunt]. That's what's so great about these movies. It's kind of unprecedented in that you've got a series of movies, and they've never been rebooted, we've never recycled, we've never recast. They are six movies over 22 years which are part of the same genetic code. And you can't really say that for any other franchise. It's something to be proud of, I think.
At this point, Cruise is so intricately woven into the franchise's DNA, it's borderline impossible (pardon the wording) to separate the two. In many ways, he is Ethan Hunt, and there are few leading men in the industry who are as committed to authentic stunt work as Cruise is. Of course, tentpoles aren't averse to recasting main roles (James Bond, Batman, etc.), but after 22 years, it would be a hard to sell audiences on the new Ethan. Perhaps there could be a passing of the torch scenario and Cruise gives way to a younger actor playing a different character - which was the initial plan when Jeremy Renner signed on for Ghost Protocol. With the series stronger than ever, Paramount might be keen on continuing it.
Of course, there's an inherent risk involved with that, too. Several years ago, Universal attempted to keep the Bourne franchise afloat by introducing Aaron Cross (coincidentally, also played by Renner) in The Bourne Legacy and the results were underwhelming critically and commercially. A potential followup to that film (or a team up with Renner and Matt Damon) never came into fruition. When Cruise eventually decides to step down from Mission: Impossible, there wouldn't be any shame in retiring the franchise as a whole. Yes, it's a recognizable brand with widespread appeal, but it's also carved out a legacy as one of the era's finest action series. It'd be nice to see the IMF ride off on a high note with their fearless leader.
- Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) release date: Jul 27, 2018