Henry Czerny landed the job of a lifetime almost 30 years ago when he nabbed a role in a little movie called Mission Impossible.
The Toronto-born actor was fresh off his breakout role in the 1994 thriller Clear and Present Danger when he got the call for a lead part in one of Tom Cruise’s now-signature franchises. Sleep-deprived and “not in a good frame of mind,” Czerny said he almost turned it down — but his agent insisted. He took the gig.
Reprising his role as Impossible Mission Force (IMF) chief Eugene Kittridge for the first time since the original 1996 film, Czerny spoke with CBC News about Mission Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, the seventh installment in the series. The blockbuster hit Canadian theatres earlier this week.
“The franchise itself got better and better with every iteration, although the first is, of course, the best,” Czerny said.
He then had a change of heart.
“Actually … this one is by far the best in the franchise,” he said of Dead Reckoning, which stars Cruise as Ethan Hunt, a skilled secret agent who assembles his IMF team to defeat their latest foe: a dangerous entity powered by artificial intelligence that threatens to destroy the world.
“Chris McQuarrie directing, Tom Cruise at the top of his game and they’re after deeper relationships between the characters … those were the three selling points,” explained Czerny of his 27-year absence from the popular film series. “So yeah, I’m back!”
Tom Cruise ‘stronger,’ ‘more centred’
Cruise has had a string of recent box office successes, with last summer’s Top Gun: Maverick largely credited with injecting life back into the theatrical industry after it took a hammering during the pandemic shutdown. Czerny has watched his co-star’s craft evolve since the first MI movie in 1996.
“He’s stronger. He’s more centered, if that’s possible. He’s more generous … as an actor, as a producer,” Czerny said of Cruise. “His feet are further into the ground, even though he spends most of his time up in the air or jumping off this or that … that’s the way I would describe him.”
As for Czerny’s own relationship to the franchise and to the character, he says 25 more years of experience brought a rich new layer to the role.
“It’s a weightier, somewhat more grave Kittridge. A little less angry, more — not resigned necessarily — but more certainly aware of how the world works,” he said.
“It’s not a terribly pretty picture that he’s been seeing and he’s trying to make his way through that and service his community as best he can.”