Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opens this Friday in theaters. We’ve already seen video of Tom Cruise’s incredible stunt work in the picture. Today, costar Rebecca Ferguson talks to us about her role in MI5.
In the new movie, Ethan Hunt and his crew realize that a shadow organization has matched its skills and plans to destroy the IMF. Alec Baldwin plays the head of the CIA who simultaneously wants to shut down operations and Cruise must save the world and the IMF all at the same time.
Ferguson hails from Sweden and got her start in English-language productions as Queen Elizabeth in the BBC series The White Queen and has played Ergenia in Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules. She spoke with us in late April when visiting the USA to promote the new movie.
You had a big part in Hercules last summer, but Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is your first Hollywood movie set in modern times. Tell us about your character in the film.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is about the team trying to neutralize the Syndicate, who themselves are trying to destroy the IMF.
We meet my character in a dungeon where Ethan Hunt is in a tight spot. She is a disavowed British agent, undercover and ruthless. We find out that Ethan Hunt and Ilsa fight very well together. They move as if they’ve never done anything else better than that.
She joins Ethan and the team for an incredible mission to break down the Syndicate. She’s sort of Ethan Hunt’s equal and matches him in skill.
Talk about the fight scenes.
Well, it took some training to be able to create that. I think we trained for about a month and a half, up to two months before shooting. I was training five, six hours a day, six days a week, to be able to handle these incredible fighting moves. And it was all from holding our breath under water and I had far to go to be able to handle that. It was kind of intense.
Your costar, Tom Cruise, has always had a reputation as a guy who wanted to do as many as his own stunts as possible.
You know what, I don’t think actually wanted to. I think he’s famous for actually doing it. This man does all his stunts. So it was challenging and fun to work and see him in action because it made me feel that it’s possible. I mean if you have a great team and you feel supported and you feel safe, it’s just passing that threshold of fear. And doing it.
This movie was directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who worked with Tom on “Jack Reacher.”
I was beautiful, the way that Tom and Chris worked together, because they’ve had years of friendship and collaboration, it just works the way they think and they talk. They help each other end sentences. Then you bring in Wade Eastwood, who is the stunt coordinator, and he breaks it down to reality and makes it as authentic as possible. And then they just train us to be able to do it. It works beautifully.
What did you enjoy about working on this film?
What I loved was trying to find that specific way of fighting for my character. Tom as Ethan Hunt has his own way of fighting. It’s just not falling into each other’s movements, you want to be able to stand out and find your own movements. That was so much fun creating it for my character. I mean she’s not as tall and strong as these other guys, so she has to be quick and smart and she’ll use momentum and motion to be able to jump up around the neck and wrap her legs around and quickly break their necks. We did that with Pilates and regular training and stunts. Tthere’s so much that goes into it. For me, it’s a dance, because I’ve danced quite a lot. I use a lot of dance motions to be able to make it graceful as well.
What’s up next for you?
My next film is going to be Florence Foster Jenkins and it’s opposite Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. Directed by Stephen Frears. So that’s like an 180 turn from high action to 1940’s story about an opera singer who can’t sing.