Julia Roberts may be the queen of the romantic comedy, but did you know there’s a chance she could’ve been an equally impactful spy action star? That is, if Mission: Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie had his way.
In an interview with the podcast Empire Spoiler Specials, the director, 54, discussed originally wanting to cast the superstar actress, 55, for a small but pivotal role.
[Spoiler alert] In the newly released Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt runs into the terrorist Gabriel, who has a connection to Ethan’s past.
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In a few short black and white flashback scenes, Gabriel, played by Esai Morales, is shown killing a woman named Marie and frames Ethan for her death as she lies in his arms. The pivotal moment is what leads the legendary special agent to join the IMF in lieu of protection.
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In the movie and its upcoming sequel, Marie is played by Mariela Garriga, known for her appearances in the NCIS franchise, but according to Christopher, Julia was initially his top choice.
© Getty ImagesDirector Christopher McQuarrie intended to cast Julia for a small part in the two-part film
However, to play a woman in a scene set in 1989, he had considered de-aging her with the help of special effects, saying: “The best de-aging I’ve ever looked at, all I kept thinking is, ‘Wow, this de-aging is really good.’ I’m in no way, shape, or form connecting to the story.”
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He had initially dismissed the idea of hiring a younger woman to play opposite a de-aged Tom and Esai, and thought: “”So now we started looking at it and saying, ‘Who’s Marie going to be? Who from that era would Marie have been?’”
© Getty ImagesTom’s Ethan Hunt was drawn to the IMF due to Marie’s death
The idea was to cast an actress who would’ve been considered an ingenue in that era of cinema, which led him to a “pre-‘Pretty Woman’ Julia Roberts.”
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He continued: “The only way I could have seen doing the sequence justice [using de-aging] was to somehow convince Julia Roberts to come in and be this small role at the beginning of this story.” But that soon fell apart when the thought of it coming across as more of a novelty crossed his mind.
© Getty ImagesThe part eventually went to Mariela Garriga
“And then I got the bill for de-aging those people before their salaries were even factored into it. And if you put two of them in a shot together, or three of them in a shot together, it would have been as expensive as the train by the time we were done.
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© Getty ImagesThe cost of de-aging and the novelty of the situation was deemed to be too much
“And of course, that wouldn’t be the style of the movie in 1989. That wouldn’t make sense if you were shooting an ’89 ‘Mission’ like a 2023 ‘Mission.’” The idea was eventually dropped and 34-year-old Mariela was brought in for the part. And the rest, as they say, is movie magic!
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