Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning director Christopher McQuarrie wanted to include a digitally de-aged Julia Roberts.
Don’t worry, Julia Roberts didn’t make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, but there was a time when director Christopher McQuarrie was considering including her. Not only that, but she would have been digitally de-aged for the scene in question.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One included a few flashbacks to Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) life before he joined the IMF. I won’t elaborate further, but they involve a woman named Marie. While speaking on Empire’s Spoiler Special Podcast (via /Film), Christopher McQuarrie discussed how he wound up considering Julia Roberts for the role.
“I said, ‘OK, if I were doing this sequence, it would be Tom in, say, 1989. It would be Tony Scott’s ‘Mission: Impossible.’ That’s who would have been directing the movie before Brian De Palma, you know, in that era,” McQuarrie explained. “We looked at ‘Days of Thunder’ and we looked at the style of it, and we started thinking what would it look like if Tony Scott had shot this, and who would it have been? I looked back at who was the ingenue, who was the breakout star in 1989? And right around then was ‘Mystic Pizza.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God. Julia Roberts, a then-pre-“Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, as this young woman.’“
Getting Julia Roberts to agree to appear in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One for what would have amounted to a cameo would have been a tall order, but throw in some pricey digital de-aging for all of the actors, and the budget just couldn’t take it.
“The only way I could have seen doing the sequence justice [using de-aging] was to somehow convince Julia Roberts to come in and be this small role at the beginning of this story,” McQuarrie said. “And of course, as you’re conceptually going through it, you’re like, ‘Now all anybody’s going to be doing is thinking about the de-aging of Julia Roberts, and Esai, and Tom, and Henry Czerny.’ And then I got the bill for de-aging those people before their salaries were even factored into it. And if you put two of them in a shot together, or three of them in a shot together, it would have been as expensive as the train by the time we were done. It was so … the force multiplier of — and the way we shoot scenes, and the fluidity, and the camera movement. And of course, that wouldn’t be the style of the movie in 1989. That wouldn’t make sense if you were shooting an ’89 ‘Mission’ like a 2023 ‘Mission.’“
Christopher McQuarrie has previously spoken of digitally de-aging Tom Cruise for the Dead Reckoning flashback scene, and why he ultimately decided against it. You can check out a review of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One from our own Chris Bumbray right here, and be sure to let us know what you thought of the film as well.