During the events of 1996’s Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt found himself as odds with Henry Czerny’s Eugene Kittridge, the director of the Impossible Missions Force who mistakenly believed that Hunt was the mole within the spy organization. 25 years later, Czerny is back to play Kittridge in Mission: Impossible 7, making him the third alum from the first Mission: Impossible movie to appear in the upcoming blockbuster alongside Cruise and Ving Rhames. But what exactly has Kittridge been doing the past two and a half decades?
While the specific details about Eugene Kittridge’s activities post-Mission: Impossible weren’t something that concerned Mission: Impossible 7 director/writer Christopher McQuarrie, Henry Czerny told Slashfilm that he was excited about digging into the character’s past after all this time on his own. Here’s what Czerny envisioned for Kittridge:
I decided that he’d been to all the agencies on some level or other, had a good idea now of how the game is played and what his place is in this mechanism of national intelligence. I figured he’d been through all of them at this point, and he’d been schooled by Ethan 25 years ago. He’s known Ethan, he’s known he’s done these things, and he knows that Ethan is someone to go to, but he also feels that it’s not ever good to have one person controlling anything.
When Mission: Impossible 2 came in 2000, Eugene Kittridge was nowhere to be seen, with Anthony Hopkins’ Swanbeck instead assigning Ethan Hunt his mission. Six years later, Laurence Fishburne’s Theodore Brassel served as the IMF director in Mission: Impossible III, and there was no mention of Kittridge’s whereabouts. As Henry Czerny sees it, his character had made his way through various intelligence agencies and picked up more skills and knowledge, as one should always strive to do. Kittridge also has a higher opinion of Ethan Hunt compared to in Mission: Impossible, although that doesn’t mean he’s fully in the IMF agent’s camp.
In fact, Henry Czerny makes it sound like there will still be some tension between the two men when Mission: Impossible 7 rolls around, with Eugene Kittridge not approving of Ethan Hunt’s methods when it comes to getting the job done. As Czerny put it:
There’s a respect, but at the same time, it’s like fire. We need fire because we’ve got to cook, but you got to be careful with it. If you let fire do what it wants, you’re in trouble. The relationship that they had in the first one, Ethan schooling Kittridge on who the mole really was and catching the mole, was the springboard to 25 years of Kittridge going through different agencies so he wouldn’t be schooled again.
It’s unclear whether Mission: Impossible 7 will mention anything about what Eugene Kittridge has been up to between Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible 7, but clearly him failing to identify the real mole in the former movie (it was Jon Voight’s Jim Phelps) impacted him in a major way. So while it’s unlikely he and Ethan Hunt will be intensely clashing like they did during their first onscreen pairing, it does sound like there could still be some friction between them over ideological differences. Hey, it wouldn’t be a Mission: Impossible movie without some character drama in the midst of the explosive action.
Interestingly enough, Henry Czerny also mentioned that when he was approached by Christopher McQuarrie about participating in Mission: Impossible 7 (which happened almost 25 years to the day that the actor was asked to join Mission: Impossible), the filmmaker didn’t have a specific plan for Eugene Kittridge, only that he wanted to “dig around” with the character. Still, it only took a few minutes for Czerny to agree to sign onto the next Mission: Impossible installment, and even if Kittridge and Ethan Hunt aren’t the best of friends in this story, fingers crossed that the former will be a dependable ally to the latter.