Paula Patton (Jane Carter) emerged as an unforgettable talent with her leading roles in the Tony Scott film “Déjà Vu” and the original musical “Idlewild.” In “Déjà Vu,” Now she’s Tom Cruise’s co-star in the new Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. As director describes her, Agent Jane Carter “is a badass.”
Though she has yet had a lot of experience as a field agent, she is driven by something besides her desire to complete the mission: revenge. “She’s enormously talented, very charismatic and really took the physicality the role required head-on,” Cruise notes. Jane, Patton says, “is as fierce as the boys, if not fiercer – she’s someone to contend with.”
How aware were you growing up of the whole MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE legacy?
I didn’t catch the TV show, but my husband and I were huge fans of the films. This is a dream come true for me to be in. I have to pinch myself everyday that I got this.
What do you think is the appeal of this franchise? Why does it keep coming back?
Tom is really a smart producer. He always likes to find different directors who brings their own unique style. Brian De Palma did the first and then John Woo did the second and finally J.J. Abrams did the last one. Now, we have Brad Bird (winner of two Academy Awards® for Best Animated Feature Films THE INCREDIBLES and RATATOUILLE) has his own unique vision for the story. This is a different Mission than you have ever seen before. Tom is the heart of the franchise, but for this there is a really strong team around him and the IMF is completely shut down. We have no resources, no help, and these are things that are new in this film. – It's an incredible ride from start to finish.
What is it like to work on a Tom Cruise movie as opposed to working with Denzel Washington or Will Smith?
All of them are great to work with. Tom is incredible. Not only is he a great actor, but also he is a great human being. He is kind to everyone on set, weather it be a PA or a grip. He just has this passion for making movies. I still have that but I am so new to the process. I am so excited about going to set. He acts as if it is his first movie and that enthusiasm bleeds down to everyone else. Everyone else is then jacked up and excited to be on the set as well. He is the hardest worker that I have ever met and so it is no coincidence that he is one of the biggest stars in the world.
Was there anything that surprised you about him? He can be intense when he works.
To be great, you have to have intense focus and dedication. There is time to laugh and have fun but then there is time to stay focused. TOM UNDERSTANDS THIS BALANCE BEST. You have to be serious about what you are doing. There is a lot riding on that and so you have to be committed.
You get to be a spy in the film. What qualities do you have that would lend themselves to be a good spy?
I LOVE THE IDEA OF BEING A spy BECAUSE I love becoming other people and I love wearing costumes BUT I don’t think I would BE THAT GOOD AT BEING A SPY I would probably ruin it because I am such a romantic and I love love (laugh). I am not cold hearted enough to be a spy.
Tom gets to climb outside a 130-story building. Are there moments like that where you could step up and do that?
I would like to do something like that. I was glad that in this MISSION IMPOSSIBLE they decided to make this female character strong and fierce. She is able to hang with the boys. I have SOME GREAT FIGHTS AND SOME COOL SHOOT OUTS. I really get to BE in the middle of the action.
Did you have to condition yourself?
I did. It was five months after the birth of my son and I WAS I want to go back to those scenes in Dubai on that building.
Do you have a fear of heights?
When I was doing documentaries, I don’t like looking at medical procedures where they have to open people up; yet I could film them because this was a job. I would film gastro-bypass surgeries and I filmed births. I filmed so many things that I hope I never have to see again. The same could be said about heights. They had this huge open window at the top of the Burj. When that window was cut out and you are in the tallest building in the world, you do get that foot tingling feeling but when your in the moment and in character you just do it.
Did you empathize with the plight of the women there?
Over there it is not a burqa; it is an abaya. It is very silky and beautiful. These women are important and smart and they are of value to their family. Dubai is one of the most liberal places you will find in the Middle East. It is not one for us to judge someone else’s culture. We all grow up differently.
What cultural things did you get to experience there?
I got to ride a camel (laugh). The food was amazing. I love Middle Eastern food. I didn’t have a lot of time off but when I did, we went to sand dunes and took camel rides. Walking through the streets is its own cultural experience. It is like nothing you see in the West.
How did you see your character?
I play Jane Carter. SHE IS A CHARACTER WHO HAS EXPERIENCED A FAILURE AND A LOSS AND SHE IS WORKING TO RIGHT THE WRONGS THAT HAVE BEEN DONE.
My last question is what do you feel has been your most impossible mission you have accomplished in your life?
It would have to be BEING A mom. It is one of the most challenging things and yet the most empowering and gratifying.