Over the weekend, Tom Cruise and the Impossible Mission Force team stole away the top spot at the box office and delivered one of the most entertaining movies of year in the process. There’s been a lot of talk about changes made to Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, especially the ending, but as it turns out, one character in particular was supposed to have much more of a presence than he did.
Just a heads up, there are potential spoilers for Rogue Nation beyond this point, so if you haven’t seen the movie, drop what you’re doing, go see it right now, and come back to read this later.
Talking to Deadline, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie discussed how the screenwriting process was a constant saga reinvention and discovery. Every time they made a change, something that went on well into production, it caused a ripple effect where they had to alter more and more. These choices wound up having huge repercussions on the film’s antagonist, Solomon Lane, played by Sean Harris. McQuarrie said:
My one regret is there is one real showcase scene with Sean and it didn’t make it into the finished film. Ironically, it was the scene that enticed Sean to do the movie in the first place. For a lot of reasons we ended up cutting it from the film. To his credit, Sean saw the finished film and was very understanding of it. Sean is a real pro, someone who came in with an apprehension of what kind of movie it was, the tone, and what the film was asking him to do. He tackled the role despite it being more or less against his religion.
In many ways, Rogue Nation plays out like a chess match between super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and Solomon Lane (Harris), the leader of the mysterious Syndicate, a rogue terrorist organization that no one but Ethan really believes exists. The two pace each other throughout the whole film, with Lane usually, or at least apparently, one move ahead at every turn.
Though Lane’s presence and influence are felt throughout, the character himself doesn’t have a ton of screen time. He mostly shows up from time to time to say ominous things and spur the plot forward, more like a puppet master pulling strings than an active participant. The scene McQuarrie talks about would have brought him into the foreground much more. Harris is great (check out Southcliffe on Netflix if you haven’t), and as he appears in the movie he mostly comes across as a riff on a James Bond villain. It’s not bad, and in the grand scheme of things you understand why it had to be like this, but you still can’t help but feel like they missed out on something and made him much more memorable.
Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation is in theaters now. Perhaps we’ll get to see more Sean Harris when the movie hits Blu-ray.