Mission: Impossible—Fallout Star Rebecca Ferguson on How Dance Helped Her Pull Off the Movie's Insane Stunts
Rebecca Ferguson is indestructible. In Mission: Impossible—Fallout, the sixth and latest installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, the Swedish actress, who plays MI6 agent Ilsa Faust, punches, pummels, kicks and spins her way out of the clutches of a series of evermore thuggish villains. Since Ferguson did many of her own stunts, it should come as no surprise that, from a very young age, she studied ballet, tap, jazz, street funk and Argentine tango. In fact, she taught tango in Sweden and still loves to dance today.
Dance Magazine caught up with Ferguson this week as she was being ferried by SUV to and from promotional interviews in Los Angeles. Mission: Impossible—Fallout opens this Friday, July 27.
Did your dance training help prepare you for the many stunts you do in the movies?
I'd say that the dance training did help me find my personal fighting style for the film. Especially the Argentine tango, where you're taught to follow the line of your spine. The training is particularly evident in my fight with Sean Harris (who plays arch villain Solomon Lane) at the end of the film. For example, even though my hands are tied around the back of a chair, I'm able to propel myself backwards into Sean. The balance and strength I needed in my legs and lower body to pull that off is a tribute to all those years of dance lessons.
Any bloopers from the fight scenes that you care to share?
No real bloopers, but there was one scene where literally the entire cast was involved in this massive fight sequence that, for narrative reasons, didn't make it into the finished film. We were all really going at it!
Did you ever think you might have a career as a dancer?
I thought I might be a ballerina. But I got bored with all the tutus! So then I switched to hip hop, but got bored with that too. So I moved on to tango, which I do still love, but by then my acting career had begun. The only dancing I do now is with ladles in my hand while cooking in the kitchen. Sometimes my 8-year-old son Isac will join me. Lately we've been rocking out to Imagine Dragons' "Friction," which is used in the film.
During filming, Tom Cruise broke his ankle during the London rooftop chase and the production went on hiatus for six weeks. Is that when you became pregnant with your second child?
Rebecca Ferguson, here with Tom Cruise, plays MI6 agent Ilsa Faust in the latest Mission: Impossible film. Courtesy Paramount
Yes. Just like Emily Blunt and Rosamund Pike did when Tom got injured on their films. I think that's the mantra for making a Tom Cruise film: Tom breaks a foot, you make a baby!
Did that change your ability to do your stunts?
Well, I realized I couldn't do everything. But I did do a lot, and fortunately I had a nice, little puke bucket tied to my waist for emergencies.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: