As Paramount Green-lights TWO back to back MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE sequels, we look at how one might learn from the star at the centre of that franchise.
The news broke on Twitter, last night. Christopher McQuarrie will write and direct not just one but TWO Mission:Impossible films, for release in 2021 and 2022.
It’s an ambitious undertaking, fuelled by the critical and commercial success of 2018’s FALLOUT. One can be cynical and see the move as damage limitation by Paramount, now mourning its imminent loss of STAR TREK as a film franchise, its fourth outing having been shelved, indefinitely. But the fact remains that Chris and Tom are a dream double-act and they work well together, to the extent that one could argue ROGUE NATION through to these upcoming sequels constitute a new series altogether, the tone and formula perfected after the variety and experimentation of parts 1 through 4 (all good in their way yet never truly consistent). And at the centre of it all? TOM CRUISE. This endeavour crowns him King of Hollywood; a truly timeless movie star. So how/why is he so successful? What can one learn from simply watching him at work? Whether you are a budding actor, CEO, teacher, lawyer, writer or even a mix of all those, EVERYONE can learn essential life lessons from the man who plays Ethan Hunt.
Let’s itemise the Cruiser’s formula..
1: BE PROFESSIONAL, ALWAYS.
Tom Cruise works hard. Always! Even when not working, his hobbies feed into the improvement of his craft. So: find one thing you adore and stick to it, completely. You might just find yourself at the very top of your trade for the next 25 plus years.
2: LOVE OF LIFE!
The guy just relishes challenge. Being alive. He looks forward, not back. Tries new things. There is a fearlessness in his activities, without ever being truly reckless. Fly planes, race cars, conquer your educational barriers. Push yourself and relish every moment of discovery. THAT is why he still has a kind of schoolboy, head of house charm about him as he pushes 60.
3: KEEP YOUR PRIVATE LIFE PRIVATE!
A sense of mystery surrounds Tom Cruise. Yes, he is accessible on Twitter (I was recently @ in a communication with Christopher McQuarrie). And he plays a room when promoting his work. But this is NOT a person that courts publicity for its own sake. Nobody knows his politics, his musings on life. All we need know is that he adores film and devotes himself to the WORK. Sure, one can dig for murmurings about his religious belief or romantic relationships. But the key thing is that, whilst he is not overtly precious or protective of his brand, he cannot be accused of seeking attention inanely. And when challenged to betray his personal code, he simply smiles and brings it back to the WORK and LOVE of said.
4: DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY?
Tom has had setbacks, for sure. THE MUMMY did not perform well. But so what? He bounced back, within a year. And if people are nasty, to your face? Just flip it back on them. That time someone squirted him with water in a crowd, he simply asserted himself and reminded them that he is accessible in promotion of his films and that abusing such an arrangement is rather self defeating. It’s called ‘class’. There was also a time in 2006 when Paramount precipitously cleaned house and ended a production deal with the (then) ‘Cruise/Wagner‘ company. He still came back to the studio for collaboration, rather than executing some nasty vendetta via rivals. He won! Broken ankles, equally: no excuse for not pushing on with work; as he showed on MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE -FALLOUT. He soldiered on. Took intense physio between takes.
5: ONE FOR ME. ONE FOR THEM. AND SOMETHING IN BETWEEN..
Cruise always collaborated with the very best. In effect, he learned how to direct / produce, in a kind of unofficial apprenticeship from the likes of Sydney Pollack and Stanley Kubrick. He fostered strong professional relationships and friendships, with the likes of Steven Spielberg and now, Christopher McQuarrie. He KNOWS (say that in Tom voice with emphatic hand gesture and RUN!) that there are certain tropes expected of him as movie star (be slightly boyish and youthful but still seasoned and cool; run fast, play the ‘best professional’ top lawyer/doctor/vampire/gun/spy etc..) but equally, that as an actor, he has a duty to make more creative pictures, in character roles (American Made; Vanilla Sky; Rain Man; Born on the 4th of July; Magnolia). And he can still have some fun in between, experimenting with the odd comedy cameo such as Tropic Thunder. It’s all good!
Yep: follow THAT formula? And now, you ARE TOM CRUISE 😉
Very best of luck to ALL involved in the upcoming MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE sequels. Tips /requests? Go to space but credibly and briefly so. Bring back EVERYONE, including Henry Czerny! Explain WHY the IMF has so many rogues, maybe (redeem PHELPS?!). Get Luther back to his wise-cracking, street-smart self, to differentiate from Benji a bit? Embrace cerebral, literate dialogue and plot, whilst keeping an escapist heart, soul and pushing the boundaries of action/adventure cinema.
Basically? keep doing what you have mastered before but even better. Always improving. Always moving forward. Just like the star of your series in life and onscreen. That’s a mission we can ALL choose to accept.