This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization’s name. No help, no contact, off the grid. Director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) has assembled a fine cast to support Tom Cruise in Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway, Simon Pegg, Vladimir Mashkov, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson and Michael Nyqvist. ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ is out now in the US, while it’s set for release December 26th in the UK.

When I left my screening for the film, many people were talking about the scene, the dizzying scene, at the top of the Burj Khalifa…..

Tom Cruise: The first moment on the Burj, when I saw the rope, I remember just thinking this is….this is the moment of truth (laughs). I didn’t anticipate the crosswinds, when you’re that high up. I had to figure out how to fly and I was using my feet as rudders. I was attached to a cable holding me, but if I turned too quickly I would go head first into the building. There’s one thing seeing it and another thing trying to accomplish it. I remember that I didn’t quite make it the first time and came slamming into the building (laughs). I was very excited because I thought it would be very entertaining for an audience and very challenging, and so that’s why I did it.

I remember when I was a little kid, I had this G.I. Joe doll that you’d take and you’d throw and the parachute opened. I was about four years old, I took my jungle gym, and pulled it over to the gutter of the house where we were living in at the time. I had torn my sheets off my bed, my new sheets, and I tied ropes around the corners of the sheets. I stuffed it around me. Then I got on top of the jungle gym and jumped for the gutter and I climbed up on the garage, being four years old, not thinking things through clearly (laughs), I took the parachute out, my sheets, and I jumped off the garage – because I always wanted to parachute. The second my feet left the roof, I realised this wasn’t going to work and it wasn’t a good idea (laughs). Luckily it had rained the night before so the ground was kind of muddy and soft. I’ve always wanted to do things like that, climbing – I have respect for heights now though. It was very challenging to do this, we trained for months to do it and to figure it out. Brad Bird made me do it (laughs).

How did you find working with Brad Bird on this fourth Mission: Impossible movie? Especially since it’s his foray outside of the world of animation.

Tom Cruise: Working with Brad Bird, someone who I have so much admiration for that it’s going to embarrass him. I love his movies; ‘Iron Giant,’ ‘The Incredibles,’ ‘Ratatouille,’ they’re just magnificent films. He’s a master storyteller and filmmaker, and for this to be his first live-action movie, for me I felt very honoured and excited about it because he’s someone I admire so much as a filmmaker and as storyteller…and as a person. He carried his spirit of filmmaking into this movie, into his first live-action film, and I think when you see the sequences and the tone of the film, you’ll think, “That’s Brad Bird.” I was very excited by it.

With a film like this, where you ’re really raising the bar with the action set-pieces – some of them are genuinely jaw-dropping. What is the motivation for you to do that?

Tom Cruise: I just love what I do, and I do it because I want to entertain audiences and love being part of a team and telling a story. I get very interested in something and that’s what drives me, my interest – trying to figure out how to do things. I train for different things, for different movies, and there’s a certain point at which the work has to get done. So it just happens, you have to. But I think it’s my appreciation, it’s something I wanted to do my whole life, entertain audiences and make movies, and I feel very fortunate about it. That excitement, being part of something, has never gone away. Just my interest and excitement for it, I think that’s what it is.

There’s something that happens in creating. There are moments when you feel a tremendous amount of energy when you see something new, to creatively get excited about. Working with Brad Bird on the story and seeing what he’s creating, and we’re working together, with Paula Patton and the actors, no matter how many days we haven’t slept…..there were some days when I had to work 36 hours straight because we were working on two different crews, or three different crews at once. There’s something where you inspire each other when you’re working, and it’s just the most amazing feeling. Like with Brad Bird, when we were working on the prison sequence and he sent me the Dean Martin song, and I went, this is….it just…you know, I get very excited (laughs), I can’t sleep. It inspired the choreography of the scene. There’s just so many moments like that. That’s what does it for me.

That environment must be immensely challenging, but also a tonne of fun?

Tom Cruise: Oh yeah. I mean, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg…..we had so much fun every day. We were working hard, very long hours, every day, and they were like, “What can we do?” They were there every second and they trained very hard. We try to make an environment where everyone can be the best in making the movie, to make something we’re excited about, to make something that will entertain audiences. There were moments when we were filming, that Brad Bird and I, we called them popcorn moments, thinking of the audience sitting in their theatre and eating their popcorn, and watching it, then just getting stunned. I was thinking of an audience just being entertained, it was a lot of fun….a lot of fun.