As Mission: Impossible - Fallout takes the long-running franchise to dizzying new heights, Tom Cruise’s role as Ethan Hunt looks like it will never end. With an all-star cast of Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, and Henry Cavill, Fallout is the most star-studded sequel in the series.
While Paramount’s Mission: Impossible movies are remembered for their famous faces, your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to try and remember the stars you forgot landed a role alongside the IMF. Warning, this article will self destruct in five seconds.
Vanessa Redgrave—Mission: Impossible
After watching Die Hard, directors should know that everyone loves a villain with an accent—Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible was no exception. As bad guys came from every angle, Ethan Hunt finally deduced that the villainous Max was actually a woman (see video below).
Played by the legendary Vanessa Redgrave, the Oscar-winning actress was as brilliant as ever in the first movie. Although Max doesn’t return for Fallout, she is referenced through the inclusion of her children the White Widow and Zola.
Aaron Paul—Mission: Impossible III
Before Aaron Paul was peddling blue meth and calling everyone “b*tch” in Breaking Bad, he had a small and forgettable role in Mission: Impossible III. With the movie focussing on Ethan living a ‘normal’ life away from the IMF, Paul played the brother of Julia—Rick Meade
As the rest of the series moved away from Ethan’s happy ending, the need for someone like Rick wasn’t a priority anymore. Oh, and no, Paul isn’t in Fallout.
Jean Reno—Mission: Impossible
Hey, it’s that French guy from Godzilla. Before Jean Reno was battling prehistoric dinosaurs alongside Matthew Broderick in Roland Emmerich’s maligned movie, he played disavowed IMF agent Franz Krieger in Mission: Impossible.
Although Reno has acted with the likes of Cruise and Robert De Niro, he missed out on some time with Keanu when he turned down playing Agent Smith in The Matrix.
You’d be forgiven for feeling a little ‘lost’ if you can’t remember Josh Holloway in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. The long-haired lothario is remembered for playing Sawyer on all six seasons of Lost, but the curse of ABC’s show continued.
Ghost Protocol only gave Holloway a minor role after playing Sawyer. Playing plot device Trevor Hanaway, Holloway bowed out early in the fourth movie.
Maggie Q—Mission: Impossible III
As the franchise tried to find its feet and decide where Mission: Impossible would go next, there was a revolving door of famous faces with one-dimensional parts. Leading the pack was Maggie Q’s sultry part as the forgettable Zhen Lei in Mission: Impossible III.
After the credits rolled, Lei was never heard from again. The problem is, it’s pretty hard to distinguish between Q’s role with the IMF in and her villainous turn as Mai Linh in Live Free or Die Hard.
Paula Patton—Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
While Maggie Q was only ever supposed to be in the background, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol cast Paula Patton as a love interest for Ethan Hunt. IMF agent Jane Carter was about as generic as they come.
As Ghost Protocol came to an end, a potential sequel teased that Carter was part of the team for a new assignment. Christopher McQuarrie confirmed that although he wanted Patton and Q back for Rogue Nation, neither could commit due to scheduling conflicts. Don’t worry, Rebecca Ferguson was a much better choice.
Brendan Gleeson—Mission: Impossible II
When he isn’t ‘in Bruges’ or spinning his eye as Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter, it is easy to forget that Brendan Gleeson was in Mission: Impossible II.
With the whole movie being pretty forgettable in general, Gleeson slipped under the radar as John McCloy -- the CEO of Biocyte. Gleeson’s role was relatively minor and his fate was left unknown. Let’s be honest, you’ve had better roles Brendan.
Anthony Hopkins—Mission: Impossible II
If anyone could hear some familiar vocals at the start of Mission: Impossible II’s impressive rock climbing scene, that’s because screen royalty Anthony Hopkins landed a small part (see trailer above).
Uncredited as Mission Commander Swanbeck, it was Hopkins who gave Hunt his impossible mission for the sequel. Why Paramount didn’t expand the role into more is unknown, but maybe Sir Anthony was just a little too expensive for the action-packed adventure?
Thandie Newton—Mission: Impossible II
Thandie Newton has had something of a resurgence in her career thanks to playing bloodthirsty brothel madam Maeve Millay on Westworld, but she wasn't always as memorable. Taking second billing in Mission: Impossible II, Newton played Nyah Nordoff-Hall (see trailer above).
Nyah was supposed to return as a trained IMF agent for Mission: Impossible III but Neton declined to focus on her family. One line in Mission: Impossible - Fallout referenced that Hunt has only ever loved two women. It seems like more than a middle finger to Nyah.