It's difficult to imagine now, but there was a time when Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible was seen as a one-off movie instead of an entire franchise. Recently, writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga discussed how their 1996 hit movie Star Trek: First Contact brought them to the attention of Cruise, who then asked them to rewrite the script for Mission: Impossible 2 after talks ended with the movie's original writer David Marconi. Ronald D. Moore says this about how Star Trek helped save the Mission: Impossible franchise.
"[First Contact] came out November 1996, and a Paramount exec that worked on First Contact approached us shortly after the premiere, in December. We had been approached by Don Granger [who was the feature exec on Star Trek at the time]. He called us and said 'Hey, we're having trouble getting M:I-2 off the ground. I think you and Brannon might be good candidates to help."
"It was obviously a big opportunity for us, and a very fun one, to go from having this great, formative experience starting our careers working on Star Trek for the last few years to, now, having a chance to work on a Tom Cruise movie."
Mission Impossible 2 is seen as somewhat of an odd entry in the series. Directed by Chinese action auteur John Woo, the movie is best remembered for its over-the-top bike-jousting scenes, the inexplicable doves flying into the middle of scenes, and Cruise's bare-handed mountain climbing bit, which created the concept of the actor doing increasingly more dangerous stunts in each new installment of the franchise. As Moore went on to explain, even back then Tom Cruise was very deeply involved in the creation of the film beyond simply being the main lead.
"We would meet with Tom every day, for like a month. Just hanging out with him and working on the story. It was wild. Looking back on that now, it was really cool what we did. We really liked him, he was a great guy. Very smart, he was funny... he had a deep knowledge of film and cinema."
This collaboration between the writers and Cruise lead to many of the movie's most well-known scenes, including the mid-air hijack of a passenger plane, the concept of the movie's central Mcguffin, the 'Chimera' virus, as well as the rock climbing sequence, which Moore declares was entirely Cruise's idea.
"That sequence was all Tom. Tom was deep into rock climbing at that point. He was like 'I want to be rock climbing at the beginning' and we said 'okay.'"
While the final product that Moore and Braga helped create is generally considered the weakest entry in the series, they have fond memories of the time they spent on the project. For Moore, getting to discuss filmmaking with Woo was another memorable perk of being a part of Mission Impossible 2:
"We got to meet with him a couple of times, he was great. I was in awe of him, because [TNG writer and Deep Space Nine showrunner] Ira [Steven-Behr] had gotten me into Hard Boiled and The Killer at the time and I was so into those films. And there was a moment when Woo and I were alone, and I just had to ask him about the making of the tea house [shootout] scene that opens Hard Boiled. And he kind of lit up and said 'Oh, that was a whole thing,' you know? He goes: 'We spent days plotting it out, working with the cinematographer, and he got so animated talking about it and how challenging that scene was to pull off."
These quotes originally appeared over at The Hollywood Reporter.