Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must evolve as an agent, going from lone wolf to a true team leader. “Ethan has really relied on himself in the previous three movies, but in this movie he has to rely on others. It’s a great challenge for him because he’s been betrayed so many times by team members and his organization and now he has no choice but to trust these three people whom he hardly knows.”
For this film, Appelbaum and Nemec also liked the idea of having a strong female agent. As Brad Bird describes her, Agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) “is a badass.” Though she has yet had a lot of experience as a field agent, she is driven by something besides her desire to complete the mission: revenge. “She’s enormously talented, very charismatic and really took the physicality the role required head-on,” Cruise notes. Jane, Patton says, “is as fierce as the boys, if not fiercer – she’s someone to contend with.”
Returning from Mission: Impossible III is the team’s technical wizard, BENJI DUNN (Simon Pegg), who has graduated to field agent. Pegg describes the character as “the ultimate I.T. guy. He’s the computer guy who just knows everything about everything.” Josh Appelbaum recalls, “J.J. said, ‘I would love to see Benji come out from behind the desk and be in the field.’ So we just had some fun with the idea because we were so used to seeing those hardened agents that have been on mission after mission and, instead, having Ethan with this guy who hasn’t been in the field that long. This is all sort of new to him.” Pegg also brings a great amount of wit and humor to his character, which is unique to this film in a franchise that is known for its intense, action packed sequences.
For Agent William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), “We liked the idea of meeting this character as more of a desk jockey – a suit,” explains Appelbaum. “We only later realize that he has these great capabilities. Brandt gives Ethan another agent to be squaring off with through the course of the movie and that’s something that hadn’t been done before.”
The character had immediate appeal to Renner. “Brandt is an analyst, a seemingly tight-wound desk guy who is smart as a whip, and that’s his job. He’s not very emotional about things. Then, you slowly start to see the revealing of who he really is – particularly through seeing this physical skill set you would not expect out of a tight, blue shirt-wearing analyst. He doesn’t really want to be part of the team, but circumstances force him to join the group,” says Renner.
Renner came to the project almost by chance, after a quick meeting with Abrams regarding another project, on a day when Cruise happened to be visiting for a production meeting. “Then, literally, from that meeting, I just came over to Paramount and sat down with Brad Bird, Bryan Burk and Tom, and they pitched me the story – there wasn’t even a script yet. They described the character and it seemed pretty interesting. I couldn’t say no.”
Bird couldn’t have been happier with the team and its casting. “All of these people are terrific screen presences, and together they were like four different rhythms and voices and tempos that synchronized really well onscreen,” he says. Cruise agrees. “I’m a fan of their work and you see the characters they create. Each member is a unique piece creating a wonderful dynamic for the team.”
This fourth installment also features an international cast with actors and characters from Russia, India, Sweden and France.
“Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) hearkens back to that Cold War-era kind of bad guy – he’s got a wildly destructive plan and he’s bent on executing,” says André Nemec. “He’s very old school,” agrees Swedish-born actor Michael Nyqvist. The idea for a sociopathic bad guy with a plan bent on world destruction came out of discussions between Bird, Cruise and Abrams. “There was a real desire to not make his plan too complicated or too abstract,” explains Appelbaum. “It’s a big, old school bad guy plan. What’s new school is the modern manner in which we go after him, and the manner in which he’s trying to avoid us. “What’s really weird, though, is that he believes he’s morally correct, and that’s always a very dangerous enemy to face because they believe they’re justified in what they’re doing. As far as he’s concerned, he’s fighting for good,” says Simon Pegg.
Sabine Moreau, played by Léa Seydoux, is straight out of the classic spy films. “She’s an assassin – she kills for money – or, in the case of Ghost Protocol, diamonds will do just fine,” says the French actress of her character. “She’s brutal, but with a little tenderness, which makes it even more evil,” marks Josh Holloway who plays Trevor Hanaway, an IMF Agent who has a very significant encounter with Moreau.
Rounding out the cast are Indian star Anil Kapoor, known for his performance in the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire,” as an Indian communications magnate and Russian actor VLADIMIR MASHKOV as Russian intelligence operative ANATOLY SIDIROV. This incredible team of international characters celebrates the worldwide audiences that have long supported the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Franchise.