Tom Cruise Image Credit: AP

No mission was impossible for Tom Cruise and his film crew as they continued to shoot during the pandemic, bringing their production to Abu Dhabi, all while setting a benchmark for Hollywood to reopen for business.

Speaking for the first time about filming in the midst of COVID-19, Cruise told Empire Magazine how daunting the experience had been with seven-day shoots and setting protocols in place for others to follow.

“I’ve produced 30 to 40 movies. I am responsible for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of jobs,” Cruise told Empire. “All my friends in the industry, people that are in distribution, and my crew were like, ‘What are we going to do? I could lose my house!’ So I told the studio and I told the industry, ‘We’re going back. We’re going to get everyone back to work. We’re going to start shooting in the summer. And we’re going to figure out how to do it safely’.”

“We had to create protocols with studios and insurance companies, and work on laws in each country,” Cruise said, talking about how his team worked on convincing places including Abu Dhabi, Norway and Italy to let filming go ahead while travel was restricted. “Assuring them how we were going to film in the country. There were times when people said, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ And I just kept saying, ‘It’s happening.’”

In December, British tabloid the Sun released an audio of Cruise lashing out at crew members who apparently failed to keep a safe distance while gathering around a computer on the London set of the latest ‘Mission: Impossible’ film.

“I am beyond your apologies,” Cruise barks in the clip. “We are not shutting this [expletive] movie down. Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re [expletive] gone.”

Mission Impossible
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol was filmed in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

While Cruise did not speak of the incident in the interview, he did talk about how difficult things got. “It was seven days a week, it was around the clock, just dealing with a lot of high emotions with people, and helping them through it,” Cruise said.

Life on the sets included social distancing, crew bubbles, filming a scene and then returning to the hotel until needed and more.

Tom Cruise flies high: After scaling the Burj Khalifa, the Hollywood star returned to the UAE, this time to Abu Dhabi, to film Mission Impossible — Fallout, the sixth instalment in the hit franchise. “Thank you to the amazing cast, crew and people of Abu Dhabi. That’s a wrap,” he posted in March. The film went on to become one of the biggest hits of the year. Image Credit: Supplied

Empire also released a few on-set pictures featuring Cruise, one featuring him riding a train, while another shows him performing a stunt on a dirt bike.

Cruise’s film unit landed in the UAE capital in January, with director Christopher McQuarrie posting a series of images from Abu Dhabi’s Rub Al Khali or The Empty Quarter, along with the city skyline shrouded in fog.

He finally posted a message after the crew wrapped up the shoot in February, thanking Abu Dhabi for facilitating the project. “Of the many challenges we’ve faced on our journey, none will be greater than outshining the gifts Abu Dhabi has given us,” McQuarrie wrote on Instagram.

“On behalf of our entire cast and crew, sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to the Government of Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Mohamed Al Mubarak, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, twofour54, Etihad Airways and CEO Tony Douglas, ADAC and CEO Shareef Al Hashmi, HM Ambassador to the UAE Patrick Moody, The United States Marine Corps and all of our incredible military personnel. And, of course, thanks to our extraordinary local cast, crew and the very fine people of Abu Dhabi. We shall most sincerely miss you until we see you again.”

He ended the note hashtagging ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ and ‘8’, implying that scenes of the next instalment were also filmed in Abu Dhabi.

After several delays, ‘M:I 7’ is scheduled to hit theatres on May 27, 2022. The film also marks the return of Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby. New additions to the cast include Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham and Esai Morales.