Jake Johnson said the leaked recording of Tom Cruise admonishing Mission: Impossible 7 crew over their failure to follow COVID protocols lined up with the intensity of the actor, who he worked with on 2017’s The Mummy.
“Yeah, he’s an intense guy,” the Ride the Eagle star told Matt Wilstein, senior writer and host of The Daily Beasts’ The Last Laugh podcast. “I mean, all he wants to do in a film — I cannot make any statements of the man outside of it because I don’t know him that well — but in terms of a filmmaker, he wants to entertain an audience, and if you’re not all about that, you’re gonna get knocked off the Bronco, because he is there to entertain an audience and he’s willing to really put himself in harm’s way to do it.”
In December 2020, The Sun published audio from the Mission: Impossible film’s U.K. set that featured Cruise lambasting crew members who had broken the production’s COVID social distancing safety protocols. The star was recorded saying he didn’t “ever want to see it again” and if the production crew didn’t abide by safety procedures, “you’re fired.”
Johnson, who starred alongside Cruise in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy, said that he got first-hand experience with the intensity Cruise brings to set every day. The actor, who has starred in New Girl and has had leading roles in comedy-actioners like Tag, said that Cruise is “not of his generation” of actors, who he describes as “more like improv people,” in that he “deeply” commits to and loves his roles.
“If you don’t love it as much as him, you’re not at the party,” the actor said. “So while I was working with him, it was just all — you wake up early, you go to the gym before you shoot so that you’re like ready to go. It was just… I’d never worked with somebody like that.”
Johnson described Cruise as a thoughtful and passionate performer who “knew every lens on every camera, and what it was supposed to do.” That dedication was part of why Johnson ultimately had hesitations about taking the role in the Alex Kurtzman-directed film. The actor knew Cruise was the kind of performer that gave his all, right down to his stunts.
“I got a really random call, did I want to be in The Mummy franchise with Tom Cruise, and my first thought was, ‘No. Not a chance,’” he said. “The reason I was hesitant on The Mummy is Tom Cruise is an intimidating figure, and especially because I had to do action sequences with him. And I’m like, ‘Look, I’ll do action sequences with an actor who likes stunt doubles.’ That’s not him.”
Recalling one stunt the two did while shooting the film, Johnson said that after feeling like he had gotten hurt, Cruise, while checking if he was okay, distinguished between “hurt” and “injury” when determining whether to go again on the stunt.
“We were on a three-story building that collapsed and I landed on my back and told him that something went wrong because I got hurt, and he said, ‘Injured or hurt?’ And I said, ‘What’s the difference?’” Johnson recounted. “He goes, ‘Can you go again, or is something broke? And I was like, ‘No, I mean I can go again.’ And then he goes, ‘So you’re hurt. Of course, you’re hurt. You fell off a three-story building.’”
That’s when Johnson said he realized Cruise wasn’t “faking it” when it comes to stunts and fully giving himself to a role. “When you see him on a horse and he gets thrown off and he tucks and rolls, his back is bruised, but like, he loves the shot. When he’s holding onto a side of a plane and it takes off and that wind is hitting his face and it looks like it’s ripping his skin open — [it’s] because it’s ripping his skin open.”
Johnson said the experience of working with The Mummy and Mission: Impossible star was “wild” and something that still impacts years later, down to the design elements of one room in Johnson’s house.
“It was so wild and he still influences me to this day,” he said. “Like I have, in my garage, a gym based off his gym that we worked out in together. He is a very influential dude.”