A few years ago, Jeremy Renner seemed poised to become the second lead of the Mission: Impossible franchise — or maybe even take the whole series over from Tom Cruise if he ever got tired of jumping out of planes or climbing up the sides of buildings. Renner co-starred in the fourth film, Ghost Protocol, and the fifth, Rogue Nation, as Agent Brandt, a secret agent who becomes a trusted ally of Cruise’s super spy, Ethan Hunt.

But then Brandt vanished. He wasn’t in Mission: Impossible — Fallout or Dead Reckoning. Renner said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast that there were two reasons you didn’t see him in those movies. Number one: Scheduling. The Mission: Impossible movies are written and rewritten over and over across months as the creative team develops action scenes and stunts and then builds the script around those moments. As such, they take a long time to shoot, mostly overseas. Renner says after he had a daughter that became impossible to do. (No pun intended.)

“I don’t have the time,” Renner explained. “If I was single, I’d probably still be doing those things. They are great fun to film.”

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Now his daughter is older, Renner added, there might be an opportunity to return to the series down the line.

Renner did say, though, that Mission: Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie did try to coax him to shoot a brief appearance in Fallout where Brandt would have died. That was a no-go for Renner.

“You don’t get to do that!” Renner says he told McQuarrie. “You’re not going to drag me over there and just kill my character,’ like get out of here!”

During the podcast, Renner also denied a long-standing rumor that he was added to the series specifically as Cruise’s understudy, so that when Cruise got too old to make more Mission: Impossibles, Renner could inherit the franchise and keep it going.

“That was Tom’s show. That would be a Tom decision,” Renner explained.

The next Mission: Impossible (sans Renner) will be released on May 23, 2025. Renner’s full appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast is below:

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