Jeremy Renner cameo

After playing significant roles in the two previous entries in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Jeremy Renner‘s intelligence analyst character William Brandt isn’t referenced or mentioned at all in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. We knew his scheduling requirements for the Avengers movies kept him on a short leash, but now writer/director Chris McQuarrie has revealed that Fallout nearly had a Jeremy Renner cameo in which Brandt was killed off.

William Brandt was introduced in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, back when Renner was being groomed to take over the franchise from star Tom Cruise. He later slid into a more standard supporting role in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but sees absolutely zero screen time in Fallout. According to McQuarrie, though, Renner himself was responsible for that decision.

In a terrific two-hour interview with the Empire podcast, McQuarrie explained the whole situation:

“I had this whole idea that the movie would start with the death of a team member. And of course the first team member that’s always the first guy we talk about killing is Luther. Luther died in the first movie, and he quite famously said to Tom Cruise, ‘Hey man, how come the brother’s always gotta die?’ And Tom said, ‘You’re right.’ He was like, ‘Why do I gotta be the bad guy?’ And they made Luther nefarious and then suddenly a good guy, and six movies later it was the smartest question anybody’s ever asked Tom Cruise […] So I said to Jeremy, look we can’t kill Ving, it’s never going to work. No matter how many movies into it, it’s always going to be the same thing. ‘You killed the black guy.’ And we didn’t think the movie could recover if you killed Benji.

So I said to Renner, ‘Hey listen, I have this idea for an opening sequence where you sacrifice yourself to save the team, and that the mission-gone-wrong not only involves losing the plutonium, but involves the death of a team member.’ And Jeremy was like, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ […] He was smart not to take the short paycheck for three days of work and getting blown up.”

I didn’t miss the Brandt character at all in Fallout, but I don’t blame Renner for wanting to stay alive in case they decide to bring him back in a future film. It’s not like Hawkeye is burning up the screen over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if a bunch of characters end up dying in Avengers 4, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him go down at the hands of Thanos. Gotta keep those options open, I suppose.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in theaters now.

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