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Though for a while it looked as if Paramount would be distancing Tom Cruise as much as possible from Mission: Impossible 4-- the franchise that he helped turned into a global success-- they backed down and decided instead to give Ethan Hunt a younger sidekick with presumably less baggage than the couch-jumping Cruise. That gig went to Jeremy Renner, the recent Oscar nominee and rising star who has been running around Dubai with Cruise over the last few weeks as production on the film, now titled Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol gets started under director Brad Bird.
But with this summer's flop Knight and Day behind him Cruise now seems like even less of a bankable star, and the rumor that keeps dogging him is that Renner's character has been added to Ghost Protocol in order for the franchise to carry on without Cruise. As it turns out, that one is actually true. Talking to MTV this week from the film's Dubai set, Renner confirmed that he signed on for the new film with an eye toward the future:
"It's a franchise to potentially take over," he said. "I can't predict the future and what they want, but that's certainly the idea."He wouldn't confirm exactly how that shift might be covered in the film, arguing that the script itself is "still evolving," but he did chat a little about the amount of training and stunts he's been put through on the set so far:
"I haven't gotten to work too much in terms of acting stuff, but the stunts have been insane. Tom has been doing loads. He's crazy, that guy. It's unbelievable. He's fearless. He's great to watch. He inspires me to want to be better. I'm training in the gym and working out and fighting and doing everything I can to try and keep up. I'm doing hand-to-hand combat, Muay Thai and kung fu and learning how to take someone out quickly. I need to look like I know what I'm doing!"I actually like the idea of Renner learning about action movie from Cruise, who's clearly excelled in the genre for decade, and I really like the notion of Renner taking over as the next generation Ethan Hunt. So long as he can pull another Cruise-like move and make other films in the meantime-- Cruise's best performances, in Jerry Maguire and Magnolia, came between the first two Mission: Impossible films-- it's a move that will pay off for all of us.