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Mission Impossible Tom Cruise 1996

10 Things You May Not Know About the Mission: Impossible Movies

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mission: Impossible this month on IFC.

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Paramount Pictures

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt set out on his first impossible mission. With five movies under his belt, and many more on the way, it looks like it’s going to be awhile before you can get that darn theme song out of your head.

IFC is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Mission: Impossible all month, so before you catch the flick, dig into a few fun facts about the franchise. Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to read this article to completion. But do it fast. It will self destruct.

10. First Comes Action, Then Comes Story, Then Comes Mission Impossible in all its glory.

Mission Impossible Ethan Hunt
Paramount Pictures

The first Mission: Impossible movie started shooting without a completed script. In fact, while director Brian De Palma had all of the action sequences figured out, writers had to scramble to make up a story that could then connect the narrative dots on the fly.


9. Cruise Got Super High For One Stunt.

Mission Impossible climbing
Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise is famous for performing his own stunts, no matter how insane they may be. And, oh boy, does he do some crazy ones in the Mission movies. For instance, his signature stunt in Ghost Protocol required him to leap out of, and then climb the side of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. While Cruise did wear a harness that was later digitally removed, the majority of his stunts were performed at a greater height than the Empire State Building.


8. Tom’s Hand Should Get a SAG Card.

Mission Impossible Cruise
Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible III director J.J. Abrams was a bit squeamish when it came to his star having to, you know, touch his fellow actors. That must explain why he had Cruise use his own hand to hold a gun when a henchman was supposed to shove it up his nose. Or why he had Cruise’s hand return for another scene, in which the screen legend was supposed to bite Billy Crudup. Not flinching when you chomp down on your own knuckle. Now that’s acting!


7. Cruise Realized One Stunt Needed Some “Change.”

Mission Impossible Wire
Paramount Pictures

During filming of the first Mission: Impossible‘s now iconic wire scene, in which Ethan Hunt is supposed to lower down into a sealed room, Cruise kept tipping over and smacking his face onto the floor. Fed up, the actor finally borrowed some pocket change from a stuntman and shoved the coins in his shoes. Somehow, this DIY solution worked, and film history was made. Tom Cruise, lifehacker!


6. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dermot Mulroney on Cello…

Mission Impossible Dermot Mulroney
Paramount Pictures

Actor Dermot Mulroney has never starred in a Mission: Impossible movie, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t lent his talents. An amateur cello player, he somehow found his way into the scoring sessions of both Mission: Impossible III and Ghost Protocol. Still, as he told the Today Show, it’s not like he was first chair or anything. “If you can hear the 11th cellist in the back of the section, that’s me.”


5. Rock Climbing Cruise Had Little Protection.

Mission Impossible Rock Climbing
Paramount Pictures

Director John Woo has described the rock climbing sequence that opened Mission: Impossible II as the most harrowing of his career. Cruise, of course, insisted on doing his own stunts, and because of the treacherous cliffs in Moab, the crew couldn’t set up protection on the ground. Cruise at one point had to jump 15 feet, and reportedly injured his shoulder trying to stick the landing, which we’re sure went over great in the director’s tent.


4. A Legendary Director Chipped In MI:3 Ideas.

Mission Impossible Camera
Paramount Pictures

When you’re making a movie, you’ll take ideas from just about anyone. Your wife. Your dentist. The most successful director in the history of Hollywood. Well, at least that’s what J.J. Abrams did, gladly accepting director Steven Spielberg’s pitch to use a disposable camera as a way to deliver top secret information to super spy Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible III.


3. The original TV show cast didn’t accept the movie’s impossible mission.

Mission Impossible Sunglasses
Paramount Pictures

While Peter Graves and Martin Landau, stars of the Mission: Impossible TV series, were approached about appearing in the first film, both turned down the offer. Landau passed because he hated how the original script killed off his character, and Graves said no because he was uncomfortable with Jim Phelps, the super spy he’d played for eight seasons, being turned into a double agent. Jon Voight would eventually be cast in the part, the only time a character from the TV series crossed over into the film world.


2. Jeremy Renner’s Star Making Plan Self Destructed.

Mission Impossible Jeremy Renner
Paramount Pictures

Jeremy Renner, who plays William Brandt in the film series, originally signed onto Ghost Protocol with the understanding that he would take over the franchise once Cruise stepped down. Unfortunately for him, the movies have kept making money, and the powers that be have realized that they can keep milking the Scientologist superstar until the cows come home. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Renner had the exact same thing happen with the Bourne franchise when his Bourne Legacy tanked and O.G. Bourne Matt Damon was brought back for 2016’s Jason Bourne. Poor Jeremy. Always the butt kicking bridesmaid, and never the bride.


1. For Once, Cruise Couldn’t Keep His Eyes Wide Shut.

Mission Impossible Airplane
Paramount Pictures

2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation provided another death defying stunt, and another headache for the director. This time Cruise was strapped to the side of an Airbus 400 as it takes off. Of course, he performed the stunt without any special effects, just a safety harness that kept him strapped to the side of the airplane like a madman. Unfortunately, the “risky” actor had to keep his eyes open for the shot to work, but his body had other ideas. To make it safe, special protective lenses were designed that would cover the star’s entire eyeball. Good thing it only took eight takes.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…