Brian De Palma reveals how George Lucas changed the opening scene of Mission: Impossible

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

One of the benefits of being Brian De Palma is being good friends with George Lucas. The directors were both leading members of the New Hollywood generation of filmmakers, with De Palma famously helping Lucas re-write the opening crawl to Star Wars after seeing a rough cut of the space opera and thinking it was... not good.

Lucas apparently returned the favor when it came to Mission: Impossible. Talking on the podcast Light the Fuse, De Palma screened a cut of the movie to Lucas, who noted that the opening did not work. 

Mission: Impossible, as we know it, begins with the team completing a mission in Kyiv before sitting around a table, sharing quips while Jon Voight's character tells them about their next impossible mission in Prague. However, that scene explaining why the team were heading further into Europe did not originally exist.

"When George saw Mission: Impossible he said, 'There’s no setup to this thing. You've gotta set this thing up! You've gotta have that scene where they're all sitting around the table and everybody gets their instructions about what's gonna happen,'" De Palma explained, via Collider.

The note was so impactful that De Palma got the cast back together to shoot the suggested instructional scene – and Mission: Impossible was all the better for it. But how did the original version of the movie play out? The director can't quite remember.

"In the beginning we had this very strange scene – it's hard for me to remember now – with Voight and somehow the jealous thing with the wife and Tom, and then we got into the first mission," he said. "And when George saw the movie it's the first thing he said, ‘What are these people doing? This is Mission: Impossible, it's a group of guys going to do something! So you've gotta get them all around a table and tell the audience what they're supposed to do,' and that's what we did. We went back and reshot it. So that's an example of us helping each other."

Mission: Impossible has expanded into a major Hollywood franchise, with John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and Christopher McQuarrie all directing instalments. Mission: Impossible 7 is due to reach cinemas next year, followed the year after by an eighth movie. Meanwhile, De Palma's last film was Domino, a thriller starring Game of Thrones alumni Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten.

For some watching recommendations, be sure to check out the best Netflix thrillers available to stream right now.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.