Mission: Impossible 7 has had something of a shake-up in the casting department. Earlier this year it was reported that Mad Max: Fury Road and X-Men franchise star Nicholas Hoult had been tapped to star in the upcoming sequel alongside Tom Cruise. Now, we have word that Hoult has had to drop out the project, with Esai Morales stepping in to replace him.

According to a new report, Nicholas Hoult was forced to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. Originally, the movie had been set to begin filming in February, but production was shut down over public health concerns. Filming is expected to pick back up in later summer or early fall, but Hoult has another commitment lined up. As more productions look to ramp back up, it's expected that such scheduling conflicts will pop up rather frequently. The report says that Esai Morales is lined up to play the villain. The casting news was confirmed by writer/director Christopher McQuarrie on Twitter. The filmmaker shared an image of the actor alongside the following cryptic caption.

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"We all face the same fate... #MI7MI8."

Christopher McQuarrie made no mention of Esai Morales playing the villain, but his use of the hashtag suggests that the actor will star in both Mission: Impossible 7 and 8. Following the success of Fallout in 2018, Paramount Pictures locked Down McQuarrie and Tom Cruise for two additional sequels in the long-running action franchise that were set to shoot back to back. Most of the new cast members that have been added are expected to star in both movies, suggesting that they will be heavily tied to one another. Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Shea Whigham (Joker) and Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) have also joined the cast.

Esai Morales is best known for his roles on TV shows such as Criminal Minds and NCIS: Los Angeles. More recently, Morales portrayed the DC Comics villain Deathstroke on Titans. The actor most recently starred in the acclaimed drama series How to Get Away With Murder. Morales also starred on Netflix's Ozark. Interestingly, at one point, Christopher McQuarrie expressed his love for the show in an interview when asked what series he might like to board as a writer/director.

Other cast members confirmed to return include Simon Pegg (Benji), Rebeca Ferguson (Ilsa), Ving Rhames (Luther), Henry Czerny (Kittridge) and Vanessa Kirby (White Widow). Since its inception in 1996, the Mission: Impossible franchise has grossed more than $3.5 billion at the global box office across six entries. Fallout earned a series-best $787 million. Mission: Impossible 7 was recently delayed by several months and is currently set to arrive in theaters on November 19, 2021. Mission: Impossible 8 will arrive a year later on November 4, 2022. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further details are made available. This news was previously reported by Deadline.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott