Where was Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt in Mission Impossible 6?
One actor who was missing from the most recent Mission: Impossible movie was Jeremy Renner. We help to explain why Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt character sat out Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Although the Mission: Impossible movies started off with a rotating cast of supporting characters around Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character, the series has shied away from that with its last outings. Through the last 4 movies some characters that were introduced after part 2 and have reappeared are Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, Simon Pegg’s computer geek turned spy Benji Dunn, and Michelle Monaghan’s as (ex-) wife Julia. When the sixth movie was announced, people assumed Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt character would also be one of those returning. Strangely enough he went missing.
When William Brandt was introduced to the series, Tom Cruise had been under fire. Not long before this he had been seen jumping on Oprah’s couch over his engagement to Katie Holmes, and as a result his sanity got questioned and his star power started waning. To make sure the Cruise brand couldn’t harm the lucrative Mission: Impossible series, the studio decided to add Jeremy Renner to play a potential new lead character in part 4: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
The audience however let go of their qualms with Cruise, and when the fifth entry (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) came out, Renner disappeared even more into the ensemble as he would not be needed as new leading man. That made it easy to write out his character for Fallout.
Renner had to sit out the sixth movie due to scheduling conflicts, which is a bit bizarre. As Hawkeye, he is part of the Avengers, so it makes sense that Avengers: Infinity War would be the movie responsible for this conflict. However, his Hawkeye character also had zero screen time. Instead Renner appeared in the average comedy Tag, about now adult childhood friends playing a game of tag. We don’t see him having chosen that over either franchise, so the whole thing is a bit weird.
Either way, Christopher McQuarrie, director of Mission Impossible: Fallout, tried to bring Renner back for a cameo, which the latter declined. Not surprisingly, as he would’ve come back just to see Brandt die. So explains McQuarrie to Empire:
“I had this whole idea that the movie would start with the death of a team member. And of course the first team member that’s always the first guy we talk about killing is Luther. Luther died in the first movie, and he quite famously said to Tom Cruise, ‘Hey man, how come the brother’s always gotta die?’ And Tom said, ‘You’re right.’ He was like, ‘Why do I gotta be the bad guy?’ And they made Luther nefarious and then suddenly a good guy, and six movies later it was the smartest question anybody’s ever asked Tom Cruise […] So I said to Jeremy, look we can’t kill Ving, it’s never going to work. No matter how many movies into it, it’s always going to be the same thing. ‘You killed the black guy.’ And we didn’t think the movie could recover if you killed Benji.
Renner replied with a no:
So I said to Renner, ‘Hey listen, I have this idea for an opening sequence where you sacrifice yourself to save the team, and that the mission-gone-wrong not only involves losing the plutonium, but involves the death of a team member.’ And Jeremy was like, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ […] He was smart not to take the short paycheck for three days of work and getting blown up.”
And there you have it: Renner didn’t show due to scheduling conflicts, and declined letting his character be killed off. This makes sense, as since the franchise has been kind to its supporting characters recently, we’re bound to see Brandt return sooner or later.