MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION

As it stands, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation has no shortage of crowdpleasing stunts, twists, and turns. But as happens with every movie, there were some bits that just couldn’t make it in the final cut. During a recent interview in New York City, director Chris McQuarrie dished some details on a big moment for Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) that sadly didn’t make the cut.

Read all about the Mission Impossible 5 Benji deleted scene after the jump.

(Warning: Some spoilers ahead — although truth be told, the plot of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is so convoluted and beside the point that it’s hard to really spoil in any conventional sense.)

At one point in our roundtable interview, McQuarrie mentioned a ten-minute scene that has been shot but left on the cutting room floor. For context, it was originally slotted to appear midway through the film, after the car chase scene teased in some of the promos.

As fans of the franchise know, high-tech latex masks are a signature trick of the Mission: Impossible films. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Benji gets very excited about finally getting an opportunity to wear one of those masks — only to be disappointed when the mask-making machine breaks down at the last second.

Well, McQuarrie revealed, Benji was finally going to get his chance to don a mask in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation:

In the ten-minute chunk of the movie that we cut out, [Benji got to wear a mask]. And he shows up very unexpectedly. It was really richly rewarding. He showed up as Alec Baldwin [playing CIA chief Alan Hunley, who wants to disband the IMF]. And it was this really fun moment, and he pulls off an Alec Baldwin mask as Benji, and you’re like, ‘Fuck!’ And that’s how they escaped from Alec Baldwin.

And you cut back to the embassy and you see Alec and everybody come out of the embassy and leave, and then you see Alec Baldwin come out of the embassy alone, and you’re like, ‘Did I just miss a reel or what’s happening?’ Alec Baldwin realizes it before you do, and you cut back to the car and Benji pulls off the Alec Baldwin mask and then reaches under his sleeve and pulls this tab and his Alec Baldwin bodysuit deflates, cause he’s so much bigger than Simon.

Of course, since such convincing masks don’t exist in real life, it was actually Baldwin acting for most of that scene, not Pegg. The way McQuarrie tells it, it was a first-rate performance:

It’s Alec Baldwin at his absolute finest. He’s so good in this scene. It’s Alec taking a monologue and just chewing it with his back teeth and just loving every minute of it. He has great zingers, and it’s Tom Cruise just being torn apart by Alec Baldwin. And Tom — I said, ‘I’m sorry, does this feel weird, that you don’t have anything to do in this scene?’ And Tom goes, ‘I got a front-row seat, man. This is like the greatest.’ He’s just sitting there in handcuffs with Alec Baldwin just destroying him.

As entertaining as the scene was to shoot, however, McQuarrie ultimately had to acknowledge that it threw off the pacing and unnecessarily complicated the film:

We loved it, and it was a big laugh, it was great. [But] all of the elements that made the scene work were also things that led the audience down a path that they didn’t want to go, and confused them with information they didn’t need.

It’s a shame the scene got cut. Benji does get to do the mask thing in a smaller way in Rogue Nation, as seen in the first trailer and as teased in McQuarrie’s tweet from the set. But without giving away too much, let’s just say the Alec Baldwin bit described above would have been a much cooler payoff.

That wasn’t the only Benji moment that got cut, either. McQuarrie also gave us details on a conversation between Benji and Ethan (Tom Cruise) that would’ve taken place near the beginning of the movie. “It’s before Ethan introduces the idea of the Syndicate, he contextualizes it as, this is who they are, this is what it’s about,” he said. However, McQuarrie said test audiences complained about the pacing of the film, and he decided he’d “overwritten” the screenplay.

Still, Benji fans can rest assured Pegg has plenty of other stuff to do in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. And the film is expected to do well enough to earn a sequel — meaning this lovable geek may yet get his chance at a big masked moment in one of the future installments. In the meantime, here’s hoping the Benji deleted scene will at least make it to the DVD / Blu-ray extras.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation arrives in theaters July 31.

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