Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One: Pom Klementieff on fighting Tom Cruise (Exclusive)

Last Updated on August 3, 2023

pom klementieff Paris

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One is truly an unforgettable cinematic experience (read our review). While it’s been overshadowed by the juggernaut that is Barbenheimer, it’s primed for rediscovery at a movie theatre near you. Indeed, Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie have pushed the envelope regarding action. But, the movie is all but stolen by Pom Klementieff, who plays the nearly silent assassin Paris. I was thrilled to get a chance to speak with her, literally a day before the SAG-AFTRA strike happened, and she told me what it was like filming a movie like this opposite the one and only Tom Cruise!

As it turns out, Klementieff underwent months of training to hold her own opposite Cruise. “I trained for months and months with Wade Eastwood, who’s the stunt coordinator, with the whole stunt team on kicking and punching. I also did some katana training, and training with a stick (for her big fight with Cruise). I also trained with Sam Eastwood on interval training, including some sprints uphill to make sure that I was explosive and that I could go hard and still have stamina.

I also did some Pilates training. (You do that) to make sure that your core is strong, that your ankles are strong because, you know, it’s very important in an action movie, especially in a shoot that is long for your whole body to be strong and to be balanced.”

However, given her background in the MCU, Klementieff didn’t come to Mission Impossible without a decent experience in fight choreography:

“I was training for years before with a martial artist called Jessen Noviello, who taught me how to punch, how to kick and how to do that for a movie as well. Because when you box or when you fight in real life, it’s not the same as when you do it for a movie. You have to change the angles of the kicks or of the punches, depending on where the camera is, and all the angles and how to sell the hit. What is harder sometimes is how to receive a hit.”

Part of the appeal of the Mission: Impossible movies is the authentic stunt work and reality of the fight scenes. As Klementieff explains, realism is Cruise’s preference, although he doesn’t mind adding some style.

“We love stylized fights too, and we wanted to add some high kicks and things like that because I’ve been training that for years.

But Tom always wants the action to be grounded in reality and not to be just flourishes. He wants it to feel real and to feel dangerous, you know, so that’s what we went for in the alleyway fight and for something that was, you know, gritty and scary. At some point, there’s like some shots that I’m almost a creature from a horror movie.”

Klementieff had high praise for her co-star, saying, “It’s amazing to work with him. He’s so skilled. He’s so generous. He’s so inspiring and professional. It’s just amazing to work with him. So I learned a lot, and I had so much fun doing it too because he’s also very funny and very nice. We had a great time, and he’s incredibly good at what he does.

According to Klementieff, Cruise is so focused on all aspects of the production that he’s actually editing the fight scene in his head during filming. “It’s how his brain works. He’s editing the shots, like what he needs and what is left to shoot and which angle. So he’s doing everything at the same time, fighting, acting, producing, and editing in his head. It’s just, wow. Incredible.”

Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One is now playing, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s the action movie of the year, folks. More to come from our chat with Pom Klementieff in the days to come!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.