I would like to take this moment to thank the producers and casting directors of Mission: Impossible; Rogue Nation.
THANK YOU FOR CASTING REBECCA FERGUSON AS YOUR FEMALE LEAD.
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Beginning about two weeks ago, I saw all of the Mission: Impossible films from the first in 1996 to the most recent, Ghost Protocol in 2011. This was of course, all in preparation for last weekend’s release of the fifth installment, Rogue Nation. I had never seen the Mission: Impossible films prior to those two weeks ago (actually that’s not entirely true. I did see Ghost Protocol in theaters, but I was dreadfully sick and fell asleep before the film even began!). I loved the films for what they were: thrilling, romantic, exotic, and action-packed joy rides that always kept you guessing (except for MI 2. I can’t believe the series continued past that thing…!).
Last night, I went to my local cinema to see Rogue Nation, which opened to incredible reviews and a lot of critical praise! I knew nothing about the plot or the cast, only that Tom Cruise, ever insistent upon performing his own stunts even at the age of 53, actually was suspended from an A400m Airbus during production!
Well the story did not disappoint, in typical MI fashion. I actually found myself gasping, leaning, and covering my eyes during some intense action sequences. The humor was well-placed and well acted, and overall the themes were very strong without being too prevalent.
However, allow me take a pause from my review of Mission: Impossible; Rogue Nation to praise Rebecca Ferguson, the subject of this post.
The Swedish-British actress, most known for playing the titular character in the television series The White Queen, was cast only after Jessica Chastain turned down the role of the female lead Isla Faust in Rogue Nation. Chastain also turned down a role in another Cruise-helmed production, Oblivion (and I think we can safely assume that Cruise probably won’t offer her another role after being turned down twice).
This is Ferguson’s second major Hollywood motion picture, and despite having both vertigo and claustrophobia, she threw herself headfirst into training, facing her fears and preparing physically and mentally for her role:
I had met Tom Cruise, we had started training and I was the lead in the next Mission… I wanted it badly! And it was hard-core training from day one – from London Heathrow it was straight into training, six hours a day, six days a week.
Rebecca Ferguson in an interview with Click Online
Not only do I write this love letter to Rogue Nation for its cinematic thrills, but I also praise it for featuring a female lead with curves. Ms. Ferguson is 31 and has a child. She did not starve herself for the role. She went through much training to perform her physically demanding role as thoroughly as possible, and the work shows, but her “normal” figure is uncommonly found in most Hollywood produced films.
There is no denial that sexism in Hollywood is a major, hot button issue. Everyone from Emma Thompson to Rose Byrne has been talking about it in hopes of bringing the problem to the masses and to inspire change. Said Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar actress Zoe Saldana;
A producer once told me he hired me for the way I held a gun while wearing panties, not for my opinions. […] I wish I’d recorded it so I could play it for every girl in elementary school and tell them never to let anybody treat them that way.
Zoe Saldana in an interview with Philly.com
I grew up surrounded by the media’s views of what “beauty” is. If you didn’t look like Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightly, Britney Spears or Nicole Kidman, you weren’t “beautiful.” This is not in any way to call out these women, for even they aren’t exempt from public ridicule. Go to a supermarket and peruse the stacks of magazines calling out these women’s “Worst Bikini Bodies.” Female celebrities have begun calling out the media on their obsession with the “perfect female figure,” and rightly so.
Mission: Impossible; Rogue Nation did not set out to create a feminist message, nor even to send any message at all about body positivity. I only know how seeing Ms. Ferguson made me feel, and I felt so thrilled. With the public’s idea of the “perfect body,” incredibly talented actresses often are either denied roles based on their body shape or are pressured to change to meet requirements someone else sets for them. I found myself wishing that this movie came out ten years ago, when I was at the height of pubescent insecurity. Seeing this gorgeous woman who does not look like the typical woman would normally get cast in such a role would have given me much needed confidence in my own appearance. Even seeing the movie yesterday has given me confidence.
So congratulations, Ms. Ferguson, and congratulations MI 5. You both are certain to achieve much success based on the work you have exhibited. I cannot wait until I can see more from both of you!
Also, Ms. Ferguson, if this ever gets to you, can you please teach me how to do this? IT’S JUST SO AWESOME!