Why Christopher McQuarrie Refused To Kill Off A Key Mission: Impossible Character

Christopher McQuarrie isn’t necessarily interested in the rules surrounding the Mission: Impossible franchise. From film to film, key components have changed. The series has never had a returning villain. They haven’t had a returning leading lady. And no director has ever done back-to-back Mission movies. McQuarrie is aiming to change all that – which meant he HAD to keep one key player alive, even though he was supposed to die.

Needless to say, there are spoilers for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation in this article. Proceed with caution.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation arrives on DVD and Blu-ray today, Dec. 15, and I was lucky enough to speak with Christopher McQuarrie about his work on the outstanding blockbuster. When we circled around to his chief villain, Solomon Lane (played by Sean Harris), McQuarrie confirmed the rumor that Lane was supposed to die in Rogue Nation… at the actor’s request! But the director changed plans, telling me exclusively:

[Sean Harris] made me promise that I would kill him off. [Laughs] And I told him, ‘Look, it’s Mission: Impossible. The villain rarely survives. But if the audience loves you, you’re coming back. It might be that you are playing a twin, or it’s a clone, or even a prequel. But you’re coming back.’

The actor apparently had no real desire to be locked in to a long-running franchise, even one that would pit him against Tom Cruise again and again. So in order to lure him into the gig, Christopher McQuarrie originally told Sean Harris that he’d die off. However, as shooting went on, McQuarrie loved what Harris was doing as an arm of The Syndicate. So by the end of the movie, they’d agreed to simply lock Solomon Lane away, and not kill him off entirely. Or, as McQuarrie tells me he told Harris, "Your odds of returning just went up."

At the moment, Christopher McQuarrie is moving his pieces into place for Mission: Impossible 6, becoming the first director ever to pull that repeat off. He knows he’ll have his core team of Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and probably Alec Baldwin back (seeing as how Rogue Nation ended). Recently, word leaked that Rebecca Ferguson was approached to return as Ilsa Faust, though McQuarrie told me that rumor wasn’t entirely accurate. And now the director still has Solomon Lane in his back pocket. Wise. We’ll see if Harris is back in the fold when Mission: Impossible 6 gets closer to reality.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.