I am Christopher McQuarrie. AMA.
That's all I have time for, everyone. Tom and I are off to Korea for the next leg of the promotion. Thank you for all of your questions. You were great.
We have a special screening for everyone on Reddit - Thursday, 7/30, 8pm in IMAX. If you’re in LA on Thursday, please RSVP at the following link: RSVP Link http://www.missionimpossible.com/rsvp/reddit
McQ (twitter @chrismquarrie)
Writer/Producer/Director: The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun, Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow and the upcoming Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Thank's, Seth. I love each in it's own way.
As for insurance, I am afraid to ask. I honestly don't know why they let Tom and I do the crazy shit we do.
Hey Chris, what was the mentality behind casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Many fans of the books, myself included, were kind of confused since he isn't very close to how the character is described in the novels.
It's a longer answer and one I wanted to write about to the fans before we shot the movie. There were so many factors that go into casting Jack Reacher, only one of which was his size. I wanted someone who could convey his wisdom, his calm, his presence. And I wanted an American. That narrowed the list very quickly.
We have the utmost respect for fans of the series. I think those that came to it with an open mind saw that we preserved the spirit of the character and the tone of Lee Child's novels.
Which movie would be a thousand times better by replacing any actor with Samuel L. Jackson?
I was fascinated by Valkyrie, particularly by von Stauffenberg's story and your efforts to present a historically accurate story. Are there any interesting bits that didn't make it into the final film, but you wish had?
Yes. There were some scenes (that really happened) that were very suspenseful in the first act. They didn't make it for a variety of reasons. It would have made the first act stronger.
How'd you come to the decision that you were ready to transition from writing to writing and directing? And how scary was the first day on set as director?
I wanted to make a giant historical epic about Alexander the Great and had to start somewhere. The first day is not scary. The day you watch the first assembly? That's scary.
When writing The Usual Suspects, what guidelines did you set up for yourself to make sure that the ending would come as a complete surprise to audiences? It could have ended up very 'tricksy' but it was mind-blowing and was a punch to the kidney.
I simply changed the question the audience was asking from "Who is Keyser Soze" to "Is Keaton dead or alive."
I didn't fool you. You did.
If you were a hotdog, would you eat yourself?
For the right amount of money.
Hey Chris. Just wanted to say I saw a screening of the film yesterday and it is easily my favorite of the series so thank you! A couple questions: What was the process like of filming that motorcycle and car chase scene (one of the best car chases I've ever seen by the way)? And are you going to be involved with Jack Reacher 2? Thanks again. Looking forward to watching Rogue Nation again!
Thank you so very much. Deeply appreciated.
Tom and I are going to do an extensive commentary on the DVD about the chase. It was insanely complicated.
Ed Zwick is currently prepping Reacher 2. I am at his service anytime he needs me (I'm pretty sure Ed knows what he's doing.)
Hi Chris! Love your work. One of the amazing things about the M:I films is that each film has a very distinct directorial voice, from DePalma to Woo to Abrams to Bird. Was there any stylistic element from the previous films films that you wanted to bring to Rogue Nation?
After 4 movies and nearly 20 years, I wanted to celebrate the whole series. There are nods to all of the films in this one.
Would you rather fight 100 duck sized Tom Cruise's or 1 Horse sized Tom Cruise?
What weapon can I use?
You're allowed to use a kazoo. But it's a special kazoo.
Can I have 100 kazoos? The sound would be awesome.
Where did you get inspiration for the usual suspects?Did you work with Kevin Spacey at all,what was he like?
Awesome work dude.
I was inspired by looking at a bulletin board while trying to come up with something to write.
I wrote is specifically for Spacey because he was lesser known at the time. I wanted the audience to dismiss him as a minor character.
Kevin was fantastic. I made a bet that he would win the Oscar the moment he accepted the role.
Hi Chris, huge fan! I was wondering why the name change from 'all you need is kill' to 'edge of tomorrow'? Love that film and your work!
The word "Kill" in the title was deemed to be alienating to certain demographics. And, frankly, it didn't have a damn thing to do with the movie. Still... cool title.
Hi! Was the idea for Tom to do the stunt his idea or was it anyone else's? Also, were you concerned on what he was going to do?
We were looking at a model of the A400 and I made a joke about him hanging off the side as it took off. Tom didn't blink. He just said "Yeah, I could do that."
I wasn't concerned about what he was going to do. I was concerned about the variable beyond our control. When Tom is driving a car or a motorcycle, he is in control of the variables. When he is hanging on the side of a plane, he is at their mercy.
The biggest concerns had nothing to do with falling. Even small debris on the runway or a bird would have killed him outright.
You've been on the wrong end of a number of Hollywood "shenanigans" with your writing getting mangled, credit being removed etc. Are you generally able to brush that kind of thing off?
With your success, and transition to directing are you immune to that thing now?
Any advice for young writers on developing a thick skin?
I've taken my name off of more movies than I've been denied credit on. I frankly don't care much about credit. I care about the work.
I'll never be immune to it. That's just the nature of the beast.
As for how to grow a thick skin: Take your licks. There's no other way. Just remember that you don't get what you deserve. you get what you negotiate.
Saw the screening last night and it's definitely got your prints written all over it, which is absolutely awesome! My question is what ended up on the cutting room floor and is there chance for it ending up as extras/ext cut on the dvd/blu ray/uv/whatever the hell the kids are putting out these days releases?
I cut about 15 minutes of stuff - including an amazing scene with Alec Baldwin and another with Sean Harris. But they didn't serve the story.
I believe the movie you release is the movie. I'm not a lover of deleted scenes. But maybe... Just maybe...
The Way of the Gun has been held very close to me. It was one of the very first R rated moves I saw with my dad (devout christian man with no threshold for violence or bad language).
I am just curious why the realistic style for the gun play? So many movies during that time were incredibly stylized and film was moving in a direction of hyper-sensational action. The Matrix had come out the year before, and was incredibly well received.
I personally love the realistic over the stylized, but I was just curious: Did any of that cross your mind?
Guns had been so fetishized that they lost their power as real tools of destruction. It was important that guns were just as dangerous when they were not being fired.
Hi Mr. McQuarrie!
What are some films that inspired you to become a writer/director? Also, what made you want to shoot the majority of Rogue Nation on 35mm film instead of using the increasingly popular digital format?
Too many to list. Off the top of my head - the work of Sydney Lumet, John Huston, John Ford, David Lean...
I love film. It simply cannot be replaced. I do, however, see a huge value in digital. I think both can coexist nicely - I shot a lot of pieces (and all the underwater footage) on the Alexa 65.
How are you doing today?
I just wanted to thank you for making my home town look beautiful in Jack Reacher. So, thank you! :)
You're very welcome. And thank you. We loved Pittsburgh.
Any update on Star Blazers?!
None yet. I haven't had a moment to focus on it. Back at it as soon as I'm done promoting Mission.
Christopher, would you like to do an epic period film? Schwarzenegger will soon be starring in King Conan...Are you a Conan fan and would you consider directing Arnold!? And when did you last pump up at the gym?
I have always wanted to do a period epic. I spent years working on an script about Alexander the Great. I don't think i have pumped at a proper gym since I was a kid.
Did everyone on the set of Usual Suspects know it was going to be such a good film in making?
No. We all thought we were making a little movie that only we understood. We never imagined we'd be talking about it 20 years later.
I just saw Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation last night for an Advanced Screening and it was incredible! I'll be seeing it again this weekend.
What was the most difficult scene to direct and would you do another MI movie?
They were all uniquely challenging. The opera took the longest (Including the first and last shot of principal photography), the gunfight was half a night (seriously). The A400 was a massive engineering and safety nightmare. The chase scene involved building new camera rigs from scratch.
Hi Mr. McQuarrie,
Thanks for doing this AMA! I'm a huge fan of yours.
That's many films with Tom Cruise. How do these director-actor duos get formed? Is it because Tom Cruise often produces his own films these days and he'd like to stick with the same director/writer? Or is it simply because you two get along rather well?
We get along famously. Tom is a great guy - a lot more down to Earth than he gets credit for. I wouldn't make two movies with someone who wasn't that great to work with, let alone 5.
First of all I want to say that I'm a huge fan of mission impossible and it is one of my favorite movies of all time! I have two questions for you. First im curious, what actors website do big budget movies like yours hire statists from? Second, what is some of the best action movies you have seen?
You'd have to ask a casting director. They bring me the people I am looking for.
Best action movies? So many. I still think Die Hard is perhaps one of the best in terms of balancing story, character, action...
Hi Chris and thanks for doing this! What is your all-time favourite movie which you did not work on?
It changes all the time. Off the tope of my head, I love The Verdict, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Country...
Hi, Chris. Based on the images and footage I've seen so far this looks frickin' REALLY GOOD! I can't wait to check out this latest entry to the MI franchise...My question for you is, If you were offered to come up with a story and direct a film for the Star Wars Anthology or main series, what ideas do you have if any?
Damn good question. No idea.
Hey Chris, what was your reaction when Tom came up with the plane stunt idea?
It was my idea. But I was joking. When he said yes I thought: "Why did I open my big mouth?"
Chris, Would You be inspired by making a science fiction movie ? and what kind of movie would it be ?
Check out Edge of Tomorrow.
I mean to direct a SF movie. ;-)
Whatever it is, I would like to lean more toward Science Fiction as opposed to science Fantasy.
Would you ever consider writing or directing a super hero film and which one?
I worked on the first Xmen and wrote a draft of Wolverine. I think I'm good for a while.
What's your day-to-day mission impossible?
Being a better person than I was yesterday.
Chris, What do You think about Jake Gyllenhaal acting performances ? Would You like to work with him in the future ?
Jake is a brilliant actor. I just saw him in Nightcrawler and was blown away by his ability to keep me involved with such a sociopathic character. His physical transformations are also amazing. He also happens to be a good soul. I'd work with him in a second. He has my number.
Any interest in directing Tom in Top Gun 2?
Tony Scott's shoes are pretty big ones to fill.
How was it working for Tom Cruise? Was it a different mentality for each of the movies he did? Did you think that The Usual Suspects would be a cult following years after the movie was made?
1) It's the most fun I've had and the hardest work I've done. It's also some of the best. Tom pushes me to go beyond what I thought was possible.
2) Each movie is different because my role is slightly different. But they are all the same because Tom and I share a unique sense of trust and respect.
I never imagined Suspects would even make a dime, let alone live on. I did, however, always believe Spacey would win and Oscar and Del Toro would be a star.
Hi Chris, Would You like to come in France for shooting a film one day ?
I would love to. I adore France.
Besides the plane scene, what was your favorite scene to shoot in Rogue Nation??
I loved shooting the sequence in Blenheim Palace.
Hi Chris! How difficult is it to adapt novels into a screenplay?
It's a little easier in that I know in advance how the movie is going to end.
If you ever got a chance to direct a Marvel/DC movie, and you were able to choose any superhero story, what would it be and who would be playing as said superhero?
Thats true most are taken, lets just say that you are allowed to reboot a superhero film.
Wolverine was the most fun I had writing a superhero.
Ironman was the most fun I had watching.
There will be the very 1st Comic Con In Paris this October. Would You like to attend it if You can ?
Any excuse to go to Paris.
How did winning the Oscar affect your subsequent writing?
I spent years thinking I had to earn it.
Hey there, Chris! I have 2 very different questions:
1.) As someone who grew up in and currently resides in New Jersey (Kinnelon, Morris County specifically), I take a disproportionate amount of pride in knowing you, Bryan Singer, and Tom Cruise all have roots there.
This is kind of a ridiculous thing to ask, but... how, if at all, has NJ shaped your relationships with Bryan and Tom? Personally and/or creatively?
2.) Less ridiculous and unrelated question: how important are storyboards to you and where/when are they most helpful for you as a director?
Lastly, I love your work, and please don't ever stop doing your Twitter McQAndAs. They're the best! Thanks so much for reading & participating in this AMA!
1) Singer and I grew up together and first collaborated on a screenplay when we were kids. Tom was always moving around but takes pride in having lived in NJ not once, but twice.
2) Storyboards are essential to filming complex action. Check out Mark Bristol on twitter - he worked with my on The Way of the Gun and Rogue Nation
And don't worry. I'll be back to twitter with more #McQandAs. Thank you.
Hi Christopher. Do you think its easier or more difficult to be a film director today as opposed to 30 years ago? It would seem as if you have a lot more tools at your disposal but also the audience's expectation to use those tools in new ways are higher.
Anyone can direct now. The tools to write, direct, shoot, edit and release a film are on the phone in your pocket.
Don't dream. Do.
You have a great collaboration with composer Joe Kraemer. How did you two start working together and what is it that you like best about his work?
We met when we were in our late teens on the set of a Bryan Singer short film in upstate New York. We started working together on The Way of the Gun - Joe's criminally underrated score.
Hi Chris! I've watched and loved all of the movies you've mentioned. However, of those movies Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, and
Edge of Tomorrow Live Die Repeat were all movies that I watched on a whim with no expectation but ended up thoroughly loving/enjoying. And also featuring Tom Cruise showing acting range that I didn't know he had which I also thoroughly loved/enjoyed.
My question is: How do you feel about many of your movies being generally well received by fans and critics alike yet struggling to find "box office success?" (I've read numerous articles about the clusterflack that was Live Die Repeat's marketing campaign). Is it a struggle to remain positive despite this? Is this something that is just par for the course in the industry?
Also, I'm really looking forward to MI: Rogue Nation. I wish you the best of luck!
My twitter bio read for a long time: Enjoying a second life in video since 1995.
My movies tend to be a little tricker to condense into 30 second trailers. I am working to change that (not by changing the movies I make, but by communicating with marketing to understand their needs). We'll see if I made any progress on July 31st.
I just watched TUSuspects for the first time this afternoon! Amazing movie, thank you for it!
What is your favorite song?
Thank you so much. Greatly appreciated.
Lately I've been jamming to My Type by Saint Motel.
Are there any upcoming projects that you are interested in directing?
Every time I finish a movie I feel like I never need to make another. Right now I'm just letting the battery recharge.
So...who's bright idea was it to hit that many countries in a week for the promo? I mean, I've got an idea who it is, but ya know, it's totally a-ok to blame 'em here hahahaha. You guys deserve some props for all that traveling.
It's not often you get to make like your Led Zeppelin. We're having a blast.
What kind of novels do you write? And are you currently writing one?
I never have. I would love to have the time to do it.
Love your work!
Top screenwriting tip that i won't find in all the books and blogs out there?
See my screenwriting tips on twitter (@chrismcquarrie)
1? Ignore Screenwriting Tips
Okay. He smells like roses.
Hi Chris, First of all I wanted to say that I'm a huge fan and you've written one of my favorite movies of all time, The Usual Suspects, and Directed another favorite of mine, The Way of The Gun. I have two questions for you. First I'm Curious which do you prefer Directing or Writing? Second, I'm sure everyone here wants to know how much does insurance cost in order to allow Tom Cruise to hang off the side of a plane as it takes off?
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