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Christopher McQuarrie Reflects on Tom Cruise’s Viral ‘Mission: Impossible’ Set Outburst: That Was a ‘Very Complicated’ Time

Hollywood was quick to credit Tom Cruise with saving the film industry in 2022 after the success of “Top Gun: Maverick.” But the actor was trying to carry the weight of the business on his shoulders long before “Maverick” flew into theaters.

In 2020, Cruise’s upcoming blockbuster “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part I” was the first major Hollywood film to resume production during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The on-set safety protocols that producers developed provided a model for the rest of the industry to return to work soon after. But Cruise quickly went viral when a video leaked of him berating crew members for standing too close together.

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“You can tell it to the people who are losing their fucking homes because our industry is shut down,” Cruise was heard telling the employees who were seen breaking protocol. “It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That’s what I sleep with every night – the future of this fucking industry! So I’m sorry, I am beyond your apologies. I have told you, and now I want it, and if you don’t do it, you’re out. We are not shutting this fucking movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re fucking gone.”

While many were initially shocked to hear Cruise speaking so candidly, much of Hollywood eventually praised the actor for his commitment to safety. And now that the finished film is just months away from finally hitting theaters, the crew is able to reflect on the incident with the benefit of hindsight. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Christopher McQuarrie recalled the complicated emotions that went into Cruise’s outburst.

“That all took place during a very complicated and a very uncertain time,” McQuarrie said. “Obviously, we’re grateful that people took it the way that it was intended. We were fighting to keep the industry alive, we were fighting to keep people employed, we were fighting for the studio, we were fighting for cinemas, and we still are. We’re still there doing that. I’m just glad people understood the intention behind it.”

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part I” opens in theaters on Wednesday, July 12.

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