x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol premieres tonight

As the latest Mission: Impossible film prepares to make its debut in Dubai tonight, the blockbuster's stars tell of the highlights in filming, including that scene at the Burj Khalifa.

Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

DUBAI // As the momentum built towards the world premiere of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol at the Dubai International Film Festival this evening, several of the main cast arrived to talk about shooting some of the film's most spectacular scenes.

"It was actually JJ Abrams, one of the producers, who first thought that we should have Ethan Hunt [Tom Cruise's character] climbing the tallest building in the world," said the director, Brad Bird.

"He was here with Bryan Burk [another producer] promoting Star Trek and they looked around and thought the city was amazing and that they had to film something here."

Filming in Dubai took 23 days to complete, with scenes shot in Deira, Satwa, Dubai International Financial Centre, the International Media Production Zone and the Palm Jumeirah.

But by far the most spectacular scene was at the Burj Khalifa, where Cruise performed his famous stunts running along the outside.

"At first I just assumed it was going to be a special effect," claimed Bird. "What was amazing was once we started talking to the people of Dubai we realised that it might actually be possible for us to film on the actual building, and we have a star who's crazy enough to do that.

"And he's the producer, so you can't tell him 'no'."

Playing the fierce female lead is Paula Patton, who revealed that she started shooting last year, just six months after giving birth to her first child.

"You don't say no to something like Mission: Impossible," said the American actress, 36, who claims she was not scared on set, despite a memorable fight scene high up in the Burj Khalifa.

"I just dive right into those things and then think about them after, that's kind of the fun for me."

But Patton does draw the line at some points: "I'm still a human being. I would never, ever, ever do what Tom did."

In one scene, there is a lavish and colourful party held in a Mumbai palace hosted by Anil Kapoor, who plays a billionaire playboy.

But filming actually took place in the Zabeel Saray hotel on the Palm Jumeirah.

"I was very happy to film it here," said the veteran Indian leading man. "Dubai is almost a part of India so it becomes easy to dress it up. There's no worry about accents. We didn't have to fly people in from India, because they were already living here."

Reprising his role from Mission: Impossible 3 as the IT specialist Benji Dunn is Simon Pegg, who provides much of the film's comic interludes.

"I think this film without the humour would be relentlessly tiring to watch," said the British actor.

"It's really tense and quite exhausting, and with those sequences, particularly with Tom hanging off the Burj, you just need some little beats because otherwise you'll walk out with a headache, because it's so intense your blood pressure would be through the roof and you'd feel quite sick."

In Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Pegg's character finds himself promoted from technician to actual gun-toting field agent, a move he says originally began as just a silly idea between him and Abrams.

"We've always said that if we did a fourth Mission: Impossible then Benji should be an agent, but it was a total joke - not even serious," he said

"But then one morning, as is JJ's way, he sent me an email that simply said: 'Do you want to be an agent?'"

aritman@thenational.ae