Tom Cruise recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the two very high profile projects he's attached to...

 

Cruise on the next Mission Impossible film...

David Fincher and Joe Carnahan have come and gone on ''M:I-3,'' making J.J. Abrams the third director attached to the movie. What's made finding a director so seemingly, well, impossible?

I'm not going to comment on the other directors because I really do have respect for them. It's deceiving, these kinds of movies. They're very complex. It's not just action, it's not just suspense, it's not just the spy genre -- it's all of that.

And J.J. Abrams?

He's the first guy I went through the movie with who absolutely clicked in terms of being able to discuss the intricacies of character and story and tone. He's had these conversations [in making ''Alias''] that I've had for over a decade on ''Mission: Impossible.'' I just think he's enormously talented.

Are you an ''Alias'' fan?

I don't watch a lot of TV. I'm not a snob about it; I just don't have time with the kids and work. I heard about ''Alias'' because different friends were like, Man, this is a great show. I got the ''Alias'' DVDs and watched what he did with story and character and what he accomplished episode after episode, and I dug it. So I just called him up.

Is the movie being completely reworked now?

We don't know yet. We're just now talking about story. But it's J.J. Abrams' ''Mission: Impossible'' that I'm interested in. The conceit for [the movies] was always that each one is different; it's the director's ''Mission: Impossible.'' You want the director to come in and own it. So when we have script meetings, one of the first questions is, What excites you? Where do you think the characters are? What would you like to see?

What about the cast? Are Carrie-Anne Moss, Scarlett Johansson, and Kenneth Branagh still involved? Or is it just you at this point?

[Laughs] Just me. With the cast, it's like any film. I want to work with Carrie and Scarlett, and Kenneth is someone I've been wanting to work with for years, but you have to start with the director and see where he's going to take us.

Are there recent action films you like, and is there anything in them you'd like to emulate?

I dug ''The Bourne Supremacy.'' Really well produced film. But I want this movie to be ''Mission: Impossible.''

Cruise his next film, a War of the Worlds remake, with Steven Spielberrg in the director's chair...

How did ''War of the Worlds'' end up on your to-do list?

We were just releasing ''Minority Report'' and Steven and I were looking for films to make together. I visited him on ''Catch Me if You Can'' and we were talking about a couple of things and he says, ''You know what? I think we should do 'War of the Worlds' together.'' I just looked at him and said, ''Oh my God.'' I was so excited. I've never made a sci-fi movie like this before. It's the kind of movie as a kid you cut as many lawns as you can so you can get the money to see the film on day one.

You've said that the film will be a modern-day version of the book, but what other changes will you be making?

The Martians in Wells' book are evil and ugly, not Spielberg's usual gentle, bug-eyed ETs. When you see Steven's movies, there's always humanity. But it's going to be exciting, it's going to be really scary, and it's going to maintain the tone of H.G. Wells' [1898 book]. These guys are coming to dominate Earth. But I can't get too much into it because [screenwriter] David Koepp has already done a rewrite and Steven has been working on it and things are going to change. We're just in the dream stage. We haven't even cast it yet.

Are you scouting locations?

It will be set in the U.S., but we're not sure of exact locations yet.

Do you think Wells would approve so far?

He's really pumped and has given us free rein to do what we want. [Laughs loudly]

Dont't forget to also check out: War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible III