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Impossible Facts

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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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.