‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ is doing really well in the cinema right now. And while a lot of people have been raving about the performances of Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill, we’d like to shine the spotlight on the four powerful female characters in the movie who are played by four formidable actresses: Michelle Monaghan, Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby.
“We were blessed to have four incredibly strong women in this film,” says Christopher McQuarrie, writer and director of ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’. “We were determined to bring a more feminine side to this movie and also to give each of those characters’ distinct identities by creating strong, grounded roles.”
At the beginning of each of his collaborations with Cruise, McQuarrie poses a question. “I ask him, ‘What do you want from this story? What’s one thing you want to do?’ This time, Tom said, ‘I want to tie up the story of Julia. People are still asking me about Julia.’ So, we began with that.”
If you’re a fan of the series, you should know that Julia (played by Michelle Monaghan) is Ethan Hunt’s wife. She first appeared in ‘Mission: Impossible III’ and appears to die between the events of that film and ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’. In ‘Ghost Protocol’, though, it is revealed that her death was actually staged in order to protect her from the murderous forces intent on hurting Ethan.
“Because this film is a culmination of all the Missions, we talked a lot about emotion, and you can’t have that emotion without bringing Julia back,” says Tom Cruise. “There’s a yearning and a romantic notion that we play with. Michelle’s work is exceptional, and she is just a wonderful person.”
Michelle was happily surprised to learn that her character would return in ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’. “I had no idea there were plans to bring Julia back and I was so excited,” she recalls. “The character is wonderful, and their love story is something fans have latched onto. Ethan let her go to keep her safe and out of harm’s way. For me, that’s the ultimate expression of love. In this story, you see them back together, but in a much different way.”
Rebecca Ferguson’s character, former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, shares the first name of Ingrid Bergman’s character, Ilsa Lund, in Casablanca, a nod to the similarities McQuarrie sees between Rebecca Ferguson and actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Era, according to Cruise. “Rebecca is incredible. She is very charismatic and athletic with a dynamic presence that uniquely holds the screen.”
With her own objectives and unique approach to spycraft, Ilsa is initially at odds with the IMF team. “She works mostly for herself and to achieve what she needs to,” says the Swedish actress, whose recent film credits include The Greatest Showman, The Snowman and The Girl on the Train. “We all have our different goals and agendas in this film. Sometimes they interact, and sometimes we put sticks in each other’s wheels, and that creates intense momentum.”
Rebecca and Simon Pegg, who had become friends on ‘Rogue Nation’, instantly renewed their rapport on set. “Rebecca is a brilliant actress and plays a great character,” says Pegg. “I like the fact that Ilsa is a match for Ethan both physically and mentally and she isn’t just there to be rescued. It’s great to see strong female characters emerging across the movie landscape. It’s way overdue.”
Vanessa Kirby, critically acclaimed for her role as Queen Elizabeth’s resentful younger sister Princess Margaret in the Netflix series “The Crown,” plays Alana, also known as The White Widow. “Alana is an enigmatic character who comes into Ethan’s life as the total antithesis of all the women he’s met so far,” says the actress. “She represents this whole other life — a life he could potentially have with somebody like her who understands his position. She is a temptation, not just physically, but emotionally, and psychologically.”
The White Widow is something of a mystery, according to McQuarrie. “She appears to be a philanthropist who runs a charity, but in reality she’s an arms dealer and a broker between terrorists and money people. She seems to enjoy being involved with all of these nefarious characters, but you can’t trust her.”
Angela Bassett plays Erika Sloane, who replaces Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley (now head of the IMF) as CIA Director and brings a very different attitude to the job. “Sloane is ruthless and hard-charging,” says McQuarrie. “She has no tolerance for the IMF and their games, but at the same time is somewhat disarming in her manner. I had an absolutely fantastic time working with Angela. She brings something very special to the movie.”
The Oscar and Emmy ® -nominated actress “exudes intelligence, power and credibility,” says Tom Cruise. “I love the character that McQ wrote for her and Angela crushes it. When she’s on screen she’s a force of nature and she’s just a wonderful, wonderful woman.”
Who is your favorite M:I lady so far?