‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Director Says He Considered Casting Julia Roberts for Flashback Sequence with Tom Cruise

Christopher McQuarrie says he briefly considered casting a major actress for what would have been a small role in the latest Mission: Impossible movie.

As Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One filmmaker McQuarrie, 54, appeared on Empire magazine’s Spoiler Special Film podcast recently, the director recalled that as the production considered de-aging Tom Cruise for a flashback sequence in the new movie, he briefly wondered whether he could book Julia Roberts to act alongside the actor.

“I said, ‘OK, if I were doing this sequence, it would be Tom in, say, 1989,’ ” McQuarrie recalled on the podcast, noting that he believed the late Tony Scott (True Romance) would have been a good pick to direct a late ’80s Mission: Impossible movie.

“We looked at Days of Thunder and we looked at the style of it, and we started thinking what would it look like if Tony Scott had shot this, and who would it have been?” the director continued, according to a /Film transcription of the podcast appearance. “I looked back at who was the ingenue, who was the breakout star in 1989? And right around then was Mystic Pizza. And I was like, ‘Oh my God. Julia Roberts, a then-pre-Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, as this young woman.’ ”

McQuarrie continued to note that he decided he only would want to de-age Cruise for the flashback if he could “somehow convince Julia Roberts to come in and be this small role at the beginning of this story.”

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As McQuarrie considered his options, though, he decided seeking out digital de-aging — and the fees the production would incur from casting an A-list star like Roberts — were not worth what he envisioned for the scene.

“As you’re conceptually going through it, you’re like, ‘Now all anybody’s going to be doing is thinking about the de-aging of Julia Roberts, and Esai [Morales], and Tom, and Henry Czerny,’ ” the director said. “And then I got the bill for de-aging those people before their salaries were even factored into it.”

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“And if you put two of them in a shot together, or three of them in a shot together, it would have been as expensive as the train by the time we were done,” he added.Rather than spend time and money on de-aging all the actors involved, the latest Mission: Impossible movie kept the flashback sequence simple and avoided showing the faces of 61-year-old Cruise or 60-year-old Morales, who plays a villain named Gabriel. Mariela Garriga plays Marie in those flashbacks; she’s expected to return in the role for the film’s forthcoming sequel Dead Reckoning Part Two.

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(From L back row) British actor Cary Elwes, Canadian actor Henry Czerny, US actor Esai Morales, US actor Greg Tarzan Davis, British actor Simon Pegg, British actor Frederick Schmidt, US actor Shea Whigham (from L first row) Cuban, Italian and US actress Mariela Garriga, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, British-US actress Hayley Atwell, US film director Christopher McQuarrie, US producer and actor Tom Cruise, French actress Pom Klementieff and British actress Vanessa Kirby pose on the Spanish Steps ahead of the premiere of "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One" movie in Rome, on June 19, 2023. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty

While the new film did not include any digital de-aging of its principal star, Cruise did perform what McQuarrie once called “by far the most dangerous stunt we’ve ever done” with his now-famous motorbike jump off a cliff for the movie.

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Aside from Cruise, Morales and Garriga, the latest entry in Cruise’s decades-long action series also stars Hayley Atwell, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Pom Klementieff, Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Shea Whigham, Greg Tarzan Davis, Charles Parnell, Frederick Schmidt, Cary Elwes, Mark Gatiss, Indira Varma and Rob Delaney.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is in theaters now.

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