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Building The Team
"I loved the show when I was a kid,” says Cruise. "I felt that, as a film, it could take us to different locations, have pulse-racing action sequences and smart, innovative tech. It was the first film I ever produced. As a filmmaker and as an actor, I'm always thinking about the audience. I want to entertain them and give them a new adventure every time.”

The last film, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III, was directed by J.J. Abrams who returns as a producer on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL. "I like to work with people who I admire, like J.J., who are really smart and talented. I really loved the television work he had done, particularly with ‘Alias,' and I wanted him to make his first movie with me. We had an amazing time on M:I 3 and I love J.J., so to work with him again on this would mean we'd get to have some fun together and create another amazing movie.”

To write the new film, Abrams brought in two of his collaborators from his popular television show, "Alias,” Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, who had worked on that series for three years. "When approached us about doing this film, they immediately came to mind,” says Abrams' producing partner Bryan Burk. "We know their ability to work in this genre, to craft interesting and unique stories in the espionage world and to create really big set pieces. They know how to bring the characters to life and make them rich.”

"These are the hardest movies to make,” says Cruise. "It's always about coming up with a fresh story – how do we make it interesting and keep up the suspense?” The first three films were mammoth hits, collectively grossing more than $2 billion worldwide. Each helmed by a different director, it gives each Mission film a unique look and feel.

Animation director Brad Bird may not have been the most obvious choice for a huge action film, but he did end up being the easiest. Having only made three movies to date – and all of them animated – he won Academy Awards® for Best Animated Feature Film for two of them: "The Incredibles” and "Ratatouille” so he certainly had an incredible track record.

The fact that the director came from an animation background didn't affect the producers' choice, but his skill as a filmmaker did. "Brad was someone we'd been a longtime fan of. It was only a matter of time before he jumped over to live action. Thankfully, it was with us.” says Bryan Burk.

Cruise had also admired Brad's work ever since he first saw his animated films. Recalls Bird, " had seen ‘Incredibles' and liked it a lot and just wanted to meet with me. So, I went over to his house and we just talked about movies. We were immediately very comfortable with each other and about our attitudes towards the medium of film.” Cruise adds, "I called him up and said, ‘Look, you wanna come by? I've got to meet you.' And it was like an old friend talking about our favorite movies. When we were talking, I said, ‘If you ever want to direct live action, please direct me.' Even in his animated work, he shoots like a live action director. His sequences are amazing, as are his characters. He has great wit and sense of composition and he knows how to keep the tension and suspense in his stories.”

Recalls Bird, "I had known J.J. for years and we'd been trying to find something that we could collaborate on, but the timing never seemed to work out. I came to J.J. and told him, ‘I've got this project that I've put aside – is there anything cool?' And he goes, ‘Mission: Impossible?' He told me the idea and I was immediately intrigued, and it just suddenly went into hyperspace from there.” Echoing 's approach to giving each director their own voice, Bird says "They don't try to get the directors to conform to the style of the franchise, which would mean just plugging yourself in and being a robot,” he explains. "All of the films contain similar elements, with Ethan Hunt addressing unsolvable problems, but each one has its own distinct flavor and style.” It was an opportunity Bird couldn't pass up. "It was a chance to work with J.J. and , all in one fell swoop.”

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