TOM Cruise meets his match in Rebecca Ferguson in the new Mission: Impossible film Rogue Nation.
The Swedish actor plays Ilsa Faust, a mysterious undercover agent who gives Cruise's character Ethan Hunt a run for his money.
Best known for her leading role in the TV mini-series The White Queen, Ferguson joins the cast established in 2011's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
In this Q&A, she talks about landing the role, working with Cruise and getting in shape to play a secret agent.
Q: How did this role come about for you?
A: Well, I was filming in the desert. I was filming (TV mini-series) The Red Tent, a biblical drama, and I was actually on a camel when I found out I got the part (laughs). But to back up, I was in London and I did an audition tape with a casting agent and then went back to riding camels in the desert. After that I had to fly in to meet Tom Cruise.
Q: What was it like joining the Mission team?
A: Simon brings so much humour to it; Ving (Rhames), Jeremy (Renner), they have found their roles off and on screen and how they work together and how they balance together. To come into that is intimidating because you have to establish your place and find out who you are in relation to these great people. But they are incredibly welcoming - Tom, Chris, Simon, all of them - and their attitude is "we want you to feel right at home and we want to help you do your best" and that is a great attitude and it helps you settle in immediately. And that was what it was like from day one.
Q: Tell us about your character and how she fits into the story.
A: Ilsa Faust was born in Sweden and has a strong survival instinct. She has been trained by British intelligence undercover. She meets Ethan Hunt in a tight spot and they realise that they have met each other's match. I think they know of each other but they never met until a scene where Tom, as Ethan, is being held captive. And it's all about who you can trust and who is on which side.
Q: So we don't quite know her agenda?
A: No we don't know her agenda and she is very mysterious. What we do know is that she is highly intelligent and equally as trained as Ethan, which is interesting because the audience never knows when the turn will come and where the story will go. She is brought into help eradicate the so-called Syndicate team, which wants to take down the IMF team. So we start out thinking Ilsa is one thing and then we start to wonder if she is something else. Or is she? (laughs).
Q: What kind of training did you have to do, if any?
A: When I got the part I had a few days off and as soon as I got to Heathrow they took me to the gym to start training. We had a month and a half to prepare before filming started and it was six hours a day, six days a week, which was incredibly intense. It was tough but essential because you have to prepare and you have to be in the best possible condition to survive on a film like this.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation opens on Thursday.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Reviewer's last word: The latest Mission: Impossible is full of big-budget action and star Tom Cruise's commitment to his own stunt work is second to none. But it seems unclear how many more fights his character Ethan Hunt has in him.
Star profile: Jeremy Renner
Quirky fact: Realised the potential of acting as a career after role playing a domestic disturbance perpetrator as part of a police training exercise.
Best known for: The Avengers, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy.
If you like this movie you'll like these: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Agent 47, Spectre.
Quote: "I was just getting into trouble, drinking, and doing stupid things until I stumbled on to acting class my junior year in college. The sense of self, the purpose, it opened this Pandora's box of emotions and it went from there."
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