Expect to see a lot more of this in the future—Nicholas Hoult has dropped out of the upcoming Mission: Impossible sequels due to a scheduling conflict, and writer/director Christopher McQuarrie announced his replacement today: actor Esai Morales. A veteran of both the big and small screen, Morales first broke out with his role on the groundbreaking drama series NYPD Blue, and has been doing consistently solid work ever since with a range of diverse roles. Most recently, Morales played the DC Comics villain Deathstroke on the DC Universe series Titans and had a recurring role on the Netflix series Ozark.
Morales will be playing the villain in Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8, a role that was previously earmarked for Hoult. But Deadline reports that the delay in filming on Mission has caused a scheduling conflict for Hoult with another project, so he had to drop out. Indeed, we’re about to see a domino effect happen as productions start to ramp up again. It’s unclear how, exactly, projects will get priority on an actor’s schedule, but clearly it’s already causing issues. McQuarrie was just about to start production on M:I 7 in Venice when the coronavirus shutdown occurred, and filming was postponed.
The Rogue Nation and Fallout filmmaker recently revealed on the Light the Fuse podcast that they had settled on new filming dates for the Mission sequels (they’ll be shot back-to-back), which is likely why this casting change is now occurring. As the new dates were set, Hoult clearly had a conflict. Paramount Pictures had originally slated Mission: Impossible 7 for release in July 2021, but recently pushed it back to November 2021. That’s honestly not a huge delay, so clearly McQuarrie and Co. are being ambitious with their production plans.
Much of these Mission sequels is under lock and key, but we do know that Tom Cruise, of course, is back as the band leader and McQuarrie revealed on the Light the Fuse podcast that Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby will all be returning for the sequels, with Hayley Atwell and Shea Whigham marking new additions, and Mission: Impossible 1 actor Henry Czerny reprising his role as Kittridge for the first time.
McQuarrie freely admits that he makes these films in a collaborative manner—on that Light the Fuse podcast, Hayley Atwell joined and discussed how she doesn’t even really have a super specific character yet, they’re working on fleshing it out as they go. Which explains why Hoult’s role can easily be recast with a very different kind of actor. And as much as I was excited to see Hoult join the Mission franchise, I think Morales is a really exciting choice here and I look forward to seeing him go toe-to-toe with Ethan Hunt.