Edge of Tomorrow: Doug Liman’s Actioner, Starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt

Doug Liman’s new sci-fi actioner, Edge of Tomorrow, which can be described as Aliens Meet Groundhog Day, offers Tom Cruise one of strngest star vehicles.

Tom Cruise: Cast Against Type

When we first meet Major William Cage, he is a slick public relations officer in the U.S. army, a post he took up upon the demise of his career in advertising thanks to the global conflict.  He’s never had an injury bigger than a papercut in his white-collar world, and can’t even stand the sight of blood.  When he finds himself about to join the UDF troops on the battlefront of the final push in the war—ironically dubbed Operation Downfall—he is not just unprepared, he is terrified.

Tom Cruise relished creating a real anti-hero, the ultimate underdog, a soldier with no possible means of surviving—let alone completing—his mission, and no real desire to.  “Cage was a really fun character to play,” he says.  “He’s in the military, but he’s not really a military guy; he’s the talking heads’ face of the war and he’s not the least bit heroic.  In fact, he’s not even a reluctant hero, he’s a coward who’ll say anything to get out of the fight.  And now he has to live through this bloody battle over and over.  Every time he wakes up, his worst nightmare begins again.”

“Unlike Cage, Tom is fearless,” Liman says.  “He will try anything, do anything.  He threw himself into the part even when his character was being humiliated or killed in some crazy way.  He cared so much about the movie and worked so hard, that in and of itself was inspiring to everyone around him.”

“I’ve wanted to work with Doug for a long time,” Cruise offers.  “His films always have the kind of character journey that I enjoy.  He’s able to maintain a tone and an intensity that keep you invested, and he imbues the drama or the action with a buoyancy and a tremendous amount of humanity and humor.  I like to put everything of myself into my work and he does as well, making it great fun to collaborate with him every day.”

“Tom brings an unparalleled amount of effort and energy to his work,” Stoff says.  “He has great chops and true athletic ability, and he comes with a full 360 degree view of how movies are made.”

Cage’s strange ability to turn the clock back only begins to make sense to him when he is able to partner with the one person who seems to understand: Sgt. Rita Vrataski.  “Cage and Rita lead the charge together in this story,” Cruise allows.  “It’s a total partnership; they may start out as unlikely allies, but they both discover they won’t survive without each other.”

Strong Female Characters 

“I’m committed to strong female characters, and I think Rita is the strongest in any of my films thus far,” Doug Liman states.  “She is a true veteran combatant who has led the charge and killed thousands of Mimics.”

For her heroics in previous battles, the media has crowned Rita the Angel of Verdun, while the troops refer to her as the Full Metal Bitch.  “Now, she must also be a mentor to Cage,” the director continues, “training him to be as strong a fighter as she herself is, or they’ll have no hope of winning the day.  Emily came to the table with incredible strength of character and was every inch the warrior Rita was reputed to be.”

Emily Blunt

Blunt notes that, despite Cage having enlisted Rita to help him, “she’s really using him because he’s able to reset the day, and she sees this as an invaluable weapon.  Through his experiences, she can change tactics in order to get further along each time and hopefully go on to survive the battle and then win the war.”

The story’s conceit of replaying the day posed one of the more unusual tasks Blunt faced in portraying Rita who, each new day, doesn’t remember Cage or anything that happened; he has to start over with her every time he starts the day again.

“She was always meeting Cage for the first time, so building a character whose interactions with another existed in an environment that was essentially the same again and again made it a challenge to progress the relationship,” she relates.  “How does she change toward him, how does their familiarty grow if she can’t remember him?  It was tricky for me to play that and to find the right measure of intimacy.”

Cruise also found the one-sided relationship in the film to be interesting to play:  “Cage comes to care for her, but she can’t reciprocate—for her, it’s always just been that one day.  That added a great layer to the connection between the two that was really fun to explore.”

Liman’s style of directing aided Blunt in conveying even the subtlest of alterations in her character.  “Doug was exhilarating to work with, I never knew what he was going to throw at me or what shot he’d want to try next, and that made it possible for me to really find the different layers in Rita,” she says.  “He also veers away from things ever looking too perfected or glossy; instead, there’s a messiness and a humanity that allow him to capture very spontaneous moments, and I think audiences can feel the truth in that.”

Liman felt she and Cruise hit the mark.  “Both Tom and Emily are fantastic actors.  Despite all the dramatic elements surrounding the story, many of the film’s more humorous moments come from their great chemistry together.”

“Emily was terrific,” Cruise adds.  “I love what she did with Rita, it was perfect for this journey.  You see and feel her humanity, and it’s quite moving.  On top of that, Emily’s never done action, but you’d never know it.  She was thrown into the deep end and it was no easy feat, but she was wonderfully uncompromising.  She’s just a brilliant actress and she has a great wit.  It was a pleasure to work with her.”

The admiration was mutual.  Blunt offers, “I’ve never met anyone with such a commitment to making the best movie he can.  Tom strived for the best version of every moment, every scene, every day.  He played Cage in a way that wasn’t at all whiny or tedious; even though the character was useless and inept at first, he tried.  I think that makes him all the more compelling to watch.”