Mission: Impossible, Brian De Palma’s action film starring Tom Cruise, was hated by the original cast of the long-running CBS television series.
The Mission Impossible the films are one of the few success stories of a revitalized television show presented as a film franchise; however, the cast of the original television series famously did not approve of the creative decisions made for the Tom Cruise vehicle. Mission Impossible came out in theaters in 1996 and launched a film franchise. Cruise’s action film is an adaptation of the CBS TV series Mission Impossible, which runs from the late 1960s to early 1970s. The 1996 adaptation incorporated several key aspects of the CBS spy thriller; however, its plot also changes the source material, which is why the show’s original cast hated the film.
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Directed by author Brian De Palma, whose other credits include Scarface, the Untouchablesand the original adaptation of Carrie, the first Mission Impossible The film saw Ethan Hunt accompanied by the likes of Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Jean Reno and Ving Rhames. Although that film received mediocre reviews from critics, it grossed a decent amount of money ($ 457 million against a $ 80 million budget), leading to the production of the 2000 sequel. Mission: Impossible 2.
Although not as well known today, the original Mission Impossible TV series were once a national phenomenon. With over 170 episodes ranging from Fall 1966 to Spring 1973 on CBS, Mission Impossible won eight Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes, including Best Drama TV Series in 1968. Starring Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris and Peter Lupus, the show followed the espionage activities of Impossible Missions Force, a top-secret government agency also called IMF. An anthology series, each episode began with its leader Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) selecting from a crop of specifically talented spies – one of whom was almost always a guest star – for an outlined international mission.
Mission: Impossible’s (1996) Changes to the TV show
The IMF concept wasn’t the only one to have moved from small to big screen in 1996. De Palma’s film, co-written by David Koepp and Robert Towne, also incorporated a different version of Jim Phelps’ character from the series. Just as he did in the show, Phelps, now played by Midnight Cowboy star Jon Voight was the leader of the IMF and in doing so sent his latest team of agents to Prague. Their mission, which they chose to accept, was to prevent the theft of a CIA document containing the names of many other secret agents in the field. At the beginning of the film, their plan fails: the list is stolen, Phelps is shot and the rest of the team, except Ethan Hunt, are exposed and executed. Of course, it is later revealed that Phelps is alive and, in fact, was a double agent.
Why The Mission: Impossible Cast hated the movie
This unexpected character change did not fit well with the cast of the original television series. Greg Morris, who played tech guru Barney Collier during the show, was reportedly so disgusted by the twist that he walked out of theaters before the movie was even finished. Likewise, Peter Graves, in addition to being angry at the new characterization of his longtime television role, turned down the opportunity to reprise Phelps. And Martin Landau, who played perhaps the most versatile and crafty characters in the Rollin Hand show, was perhaps the most vocal. In an October 2009 interview with MTV, about 11 years after the first film was released and two years later M: I 3 in theaters, the Oscar-winning actor said this:
“When they were working on an early incarnation of the first – not the script they ended up doing – they wanted the whole team to be destroyed, taken out one at a time, and I was against it. It was basically an action-adventure film and not Mission. Mission it was a mind game. The ideal mission was to get in and out without anyone knowing we were there. So the whole plot changed. Why volunteer to have our characters commit suicide? I passed it on … The script wasn’t that good either! “
But even so, the disgust of the original cast had no impact on the eventual and growing success of the film franchise. In fact, the Mission Impossible is one of those rare gems in action blockbusters: a franchise that gets better and better as it goes on.
More: Best Franchise Movies of the Decade
Key release dates
- Mission: Impossible 7 (2021)Release date: November 19, 2021
- Mission: Impossible 8 (2022)Release date: November 4, 2022
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