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Mission: Impossible's Henry Czerny Had Real CIA Prep For His Role As Kittridge

Tom Cruise isn't the only one who takes the "Mission: Impossible" franchise seriously. Back in 1996, when Cruise and producer Paula Wagner were kicking off the series, they enlisted veteran filmmaker Brian De Palma for the job. The "Scarface" director elevated the spy-thriller into a convoluted game of espionage and treason, bolstering it with various intense set pieces and ambivalent characters.

To round out the blockbuster, De Palma enlisted Henry Czerny for the role of Eugene Kittridge, the Director of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF). It was a perfect piece of casting. After all, Czerny played the CIA's head honcho in 1994's "Clear and Present Danger." For fans of the franchise, Czerny's Kittridge is an unknown quantity, a superior who oscillates between friend and foe, leaving an uneasy impression on Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and viewers. Ultimately, the self-interested Kittridge is revealed to be as decent of a bureaucrat as one can be. How did Czerny effortlessly slip into the role? It turns out that he got his charm and slick attitude from the real CIA.

While speaking with Uproxx, Czerny casually revealed that because of his clout as the CIA boss in "Clear and Present Danger," he was afforded an opportunity to meet with real CIA members to prep for his stint as Kittridge. "They said, 'We'll chat with them. We'll let them know how things work,'" Czerny revealed, confirming that he spent a day and a half with the CIA. When asked if he simply called up the organization, Czerny remained coy, saying, "I had people call people call people."

Nobody was interested in Henry Czerny's CIA prep

For Henry Czerny, doing prep at the CIA was important, with the actor acknowledging how the organization was interested in making sure that their work was portrayed accurately. "So, I did all kinds of homework there," Czerny continued. "And then I had the script with me, and I didn't try to show them the script, but I knew the questions that I wanted to ask them about it." Of course, Czerny isn't the only actor who has met with the CIA to prep for roles. Most recently, "Jack Ryan" actor John Krasinski revealed that he met with real agents to round out his character. It's not uncommon for actors to go deep into research mode, with their hard work paying off ... usually.

With all the knowledge he needed to play the best version of Kittridge, Czerny headed to the film's production, only to be told that his prep work was not needed. "It was, 'Thank you very much, but please keep that to yourself. Great backstory for you. I love that you did that for you,'" Czerny added. As expected, the actor was disappointed that Brian De Palma and co. weren't receptive to the work he had put in. No matter, Czerny thought, as he consulted with former franchise producer Paula Wagner after "Mission: Impossible" had debuted, telling her the number of ways the film had failed Kittridge. 

"And that's the last I saw of 'Mission: Impossible,'" Czerny added. "I burned that bridge." That is until now. Fans of the franchise were delighted when it was revealed that Kittridge would be returning for "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One," coming back into the iconic role after nearly three decades.

Henry Czerny finally got to use his CIA research for Dead Reckoning Part One

The "Mission: Impossible" franchise is one thing if not consistent in being inconsistent, at least until recent installments. When it came time for "Mission: Impossible 2," Eugene Kittridge was nowhere to be found, with his character entirely replaced by Anthony Hopkins, the new head honcho at the IMF. With "Mission: Impossible III," Hopkins' character vanished, casually replaced by the coldhearted Laurence Fishburne in an extremely memorable performance. Naturally, subsequent "Mission: Impossible" films introduced brand-new IMF and CIA leaders, making the world of American espionage all the more complicated.

"Dead Reckoning Part One," however, remedies that issue by folding Henry Czerny's Kittridge back into the franchise, an inclusion that's absolutely perfect. Once again, Kittridge is the boss of the IMF and the CIA, with "Dead Reckoning" actually utilizing some of the research the actor had done decades ago. Continuing his chat with Uproxx, Czerny opened up about how "Dead Reckoning Part One" director Christopher McQuarrie was open to shaping the character alongside him. "[McQuarrie is] more open to what the actor wants to bring, given the genre, given the tone of the scene, given the trajectory of the story," Czerny added.

While speaking with Collider, McQuarrie opened up about how he had originally planned to bring Czerny back in previous installments. However, his inclusion in entries like "Rogue Nation" and "Fallout" felt forced, with the director saying, "It always felt a little bit like fan service and that we were using Henry and not serving him." With "Dead Reckoning Part One," Czerny is used in the best way possible: annoying Ethan Hunt, making Kittridge one of the most memorable characters in the film.