Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Director Reveals the Film Finally Explores Ethan Hunt’s Past

The story of Ethan Hunt prior to the events of the first Mission: Impossible movie largely remain a mystery. The character, played for nearly three decades by Tom Cruise, is one of the most well-known action heroes of our time, but rans really only know about what has happened to him on-screen. That’s going to change over the course of the next two films in the franchise, thanks to a new character from Ethan’s past.

Both Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning movies are going to dig heavily into Ethan’s history, using a “threat” from his past that emerges in his current story. Nicholas Hoult was originally set to play this character, but the actor had to drop out of production due to scheduling conflicts. That led to the casting of Esai Morales. Given that Morales is much older than Hoult, the entire character was rewritten to fit the actor.

Director Christopher McQuarrie has been helming the Mission: Impossible franchise for several films now, and is directing both parts of Dead Reckoning. Speaking to Empire, the filmmaker explained how Morales’ character — Gabriel — will tie into Ethan’s backstory.

“Casting Esai allowed us to explore things with those characters and the notion of Ethan’s past,” said McQuarrie. “Ethan has a past that predates the IMF, and that allowed us to explore that with a character that knew Ethan before Ethan was Ethan. That’s part of who Gabriel is.”

The name Gabriel could end up being important for both the new villain and Ethan. McQuarrie went on to say that all of the details surrounding the character, including his name, were chosen very specifically.

“Every detail of the story is very carefully considered,” the director added. “People who want to do their homework can derive from that whatever they please.”

Now the speculation begins. Fans will be able to see half of the story when Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One arrives in theaters on July 12th. Part Two is set to arrive on June 28, 2024.