'Mission: Impossible 7' Replaces Nicholas Hoult With Esai Morales As The Villain

Nicholas Hoult has been steadily carving out a fascinating niche for himself as a charismatic, scenery-chewing antagonist, which made his casting as the Mission: Impossible 7 villain feel like a fitting next step for the young British actor. But due to production delays for the Christopher McQuarrie-directed action sequel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hoult has been replaced with Esai Morales. The star of NYPD Blue, La Bamba, and Ozark takes over the role of the Mission: Impossible 7 villain, for which character details still remain a mystery.

Deadline reports that Esai Morales has joined the cast of Mission: Impossible 7, taking over the role of the villain formerly played by Nicholas Hoult, who was cast as the Big Bad earlier this year.

The outlet reports that the production delays for the seventh installment of the acclaimed Mission: Impossible franchise — which, like all productions around the world, had to shut down filming due to the coronavirus pandemic —put Hoult in conflict with another commitment. Mission: Impossible 7 is due to restart production in late summer or early fall, according to Deadline.

This is an unfortunate loss for the Mission: Impossible series, which had yet to have as young a villain as Hoult, and none with his particular maliciously foppish energy that he's perfected in recent turns in The Great and The Favourite, and somewhat of an odd replacement with Morales. The late-50s Latinx actor is a very different choice than the 30-year-old British actor, and though he's made his mark on television with shows like NYPD Blue and Ozark, he doesn't have quite the same name recognition as Hoult. We still admittedly don't know what the villain of Mission: Impossible 7 will be like, so it's possible that McQuarrie will tweak the character to better suit Morales' talents.

Mission: Impossible 7 is set to be released on November 19, 2021, pushed back four months by Paramount due to the pandemic. Mission: Impossible 8 is set to follow on August 5, 2022.Tom Cruise, Rebecca FergusonSimon Pegg, Ving RhamesHenry Czerny and Vanessa Kirby are set to reprise their roles in the series, joined by and newcomers Hayley AtwellShea Whigham, and Pom Klementieff.