Mission: Impossible 3: During a recent interview with USA Today, director J.J. Abrams talked briefly about directing the upcoming continuation of the Mission: Impossible franchise...

During this interview, he has to take a break to talk with an actress about a role in Mission: Impossible 3, the Tom Cruise vehicle that will be Abrams' feature-film directing debut. And that's before he checks in on four projects being considered for the fall TV schedule. RELATED: Parachuting Tom Cruise Surprises Hikers While Preparing for Mission: Impossible 8

Like Felicity, Alias has been a critics' darling. It made Garner a star and wowed Cruise enough to hand Abrams the keys to M:I-3 after viewing the series' first two seasons — all 44 episodes. Abrams is "a brilliantly creative artist who really gets the franchise," says Cruise, whose earlier M:I ventures were directed by veterans Brian De Palma and John Woo. "I enjoy shaking things up and allowing each director his vision."

Abrams is thrilled about M:I-3, but he says even that had to be viewed through other work and family responsibilities. His wife — "the most wonderfully, brutally honest person I know" — said he had too much on his plate. He told Cruise he couldn't start shooting until after he finished the TV season. Cruise agreed to wait.

Action scenes and special effects will remain an M:I-3 staple, Abrams says, but his take will focus on who Cruise's Ethan Hunt is, "not just what he can do."

With M:I-3 coming on the heels of Alias and Lost, Abrams' description of the career opportunity sounds as adrenaline-stoked as the life of an international spy.

"It's such a crazy dream," he says. "The idea of taking a franchise that has the potential to be such a thrill ride, such an emotional and visceral experience, and to be given a chance to realize that potential — it's the most exciting thing in the world."