Metro: Mission Impossible – Actress Overcame Vertigo to do Stunts
By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada
When Rebecca Ferguson was cast as Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the mega Tom Cruise franchise, she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into.
“This is a Mission film,” says the Swedish actress. “You process that in your head. It means action. I don’t know what kind of action, but it will be action. I met Tom Cruise and it was phenomenal. It was welcoming and warm and coffee and chats and laughing and talking. Then we talked about the character and the build up of the script because they were working on it. They were tweaking it. There wasn’t a full script for me to read at that very specific moment but I got the gist of it.”
Ferguson, who is best known for period dramas like BBC’s The White Queen and The Cousin’s War, expected the role would be physical but adds, “they were kind enough not to inform me about the high jumps that were to be held on the first day of shooting.”
She describes her first stunt, a seventy-five foot leap from the roof of the Vienna Opera House, as, “completely, absolutely gob-smackingly terrifying.”
“I told them, ‘Look, I’m great underwater. I dive. I love all that. Jumping off buildings? I’m thinking no.’ They said, ‘That’s fine. We have stunt doubles.’ I went, ‘Stunt doubles? No, no, no, no, no. What do I have to do?’”
For weeks she trained six hours a day to meet the physical demands of the shoot and mentally prepared to overcome her vertigo for the Opera House stunt.
“We just worked our way up and got to seventy-five feet,” she says. “I did the jump.”
What went through her mind as she stepped off the building? “Don’t look down and keep your legs wrapped tightly around Tom. Jump and look cool.”
She says she was not forced into the stunt and could always have said no, but ultimately enjoyed doing it “I love the intensity of the action sequences. There is an energy that is just incredible and your heart is beating.”
The thirty-two year-old actress, who will next be seen opposite Meryl Streep in the Stephen Frears film Florence Foster Jenkins, says in those moments of stress she becomes very focussed. Later though, the weight of the situation sinks in.
“After,” she says, “it hits me. I go, ‘Is that Tom Cruise? Am I kicking ass with Tom Cruise?’”