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Feature: Mission: Impossible 3

Cruise Control

Tom Cruise and JJ Abrams

JJ Abrams talks exclusively about writing Mission: Impossible – 3, directing Tom Cruise, and also about that little TV show he does... Lost

After writing the screenplay for Armageddon back in 1998, JJ Abrams has since scripted Joy Ride (aka Road Kill), created hit spy drama Alias and co-created four-season success story Felicity and the currently globe-conquering Lost, of which more later. He is currently to be found directing Mission: Impossible – 3 from his own script.

As Ultimate DVD offers congratulations on the latest addition to his family and ponders how on earth he found the time, Abrams is heading for Paramount Studios. How did he get persuaded to be involved in such a massive project as M:I-3? “It took no persuasion whatsoever. The opportunity presented itself and I jumped at it. What happened was, I met Tom Cruise with Steven Spielberg; it was actually about War of the Worlds, and unfortunately I couldn’t do it because I was about to do Lost and they were still wanting a version of Superman [yes, he pitched a script in the development stages for that upcoming movie too] at the time, and when the meeting was over, my assistant handed Tom the DVDs for the first two series of Alias. When I was shooting the pilot for Lost in Hawaii, I got a call from Tom Cruise – which was unusual – and he had watched all the episodes of the first two seasons and wanted to get together when I got back to LA. So I did, and we did, and after a few months the production of Mission that was scheduled to happen that year was not working out and Tom asked me if I’d like to come on and direct the movie.”

Abrams is, of course, the third person to try his hand at creating the infrequent series of adventures of the Impossible Missions Force’s Ethan Hunt (Cruise), but taking on an established franchise didn’t faze him. “The opportunity was a dream for me for that very reason: it is an established franchise with arguably the biggest star in the world; I just couldn’t stop laughing that I was even being given the opportunity. But the thing that was exciting was that the first two movies were both very different. Both concerned themselves with things that I knew, if I was going to direct the movie, would be different from what I would wanna do. And so I didn’t feel like it was just making the same movie again; there will be things that are nods to the prior films or things that feel familiar to the genre obviously, but there have been a lot of spy films made since the first Mission: Impossible movie has come out. There’s been additional James Bond films, there’s been the Mission: Impossible sequel, there’s been 24, there’s been Alias, there’s been the Bourne films. There have been so many spy movies that if you’re gonna make another Mission: Impossible you’d better have a decent reason. And I felt that, creatively, Tom was willing to take this thing in another direction. It’s been a dream collaboration as far as I’m concerned.”

by Paul Spragg

Read the full interview in
Ultimate DVD #73

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Mission: Impossible 3 © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #73, see below for ordering options
Ultimate DVD #73
Feb/March–Action Film Special 2006
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