While Mission: Impossible -- Fallout brought back as many surviving members of the IMF as it could, Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt was notably absent from the film. That almost wasn’t the case.
Speaking with Empire, Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie explained that he did have a plan for Renner’s character, but, due to the uncertainty of Renner’s potential filming schedule with Avengers: Infinity War, it would have involved killing him off.
Given that the production wasn't sure how long Renner could be on set, if at all, the plan was to have Brandt sacrifice himself early on during the initial plutonium deal that sets the rest of the plot in motion. Renner, ultimately, declined the offer.
“Jeremy had his commitment to Avengers, which ironically they ended up not exercising, and we didn’t know what the [sixth Mission] movie was, so we couldn’t provide a schedule," said McQuarrie. "We needed absolute freedom. The unfortunate thing for Jeremy is that he got caught in this perfect storm of, one can’t use you and one doesn’t know how to, given the massive complications they had with Avengers.”
McQuarrie went on to explain that he had always envisioned the movie starting off with the death of a team member, but that the right opportunity never presented itself. Originally, the idea of killing off Ving Rhames' character, Luther Stickell, was floated, but the move just didn't feel right.
"I said to Jeremy, look we can’t kill Ving, it’s never going to work," said McQuarrie. "No matter how many movies into it, it’s always going to be the same thing. You killed the black guy. And we didn’t think the movie could recover if you killed Benji.”
McQuarrie eventually humored the idea of killing off Renner's character, but the actor didn't bite.
“So I said to Renner, ‘Hey listen, I have this idea for an opening sequence where you sacrifice yourself to save the team, and that the mission-gone-wrong not only involves losing the plutonium, but involves the death of a team member,’” said McQuarrie. “And Jeremy was like, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ [...] He was smart not to take the short paycheck for three days of work and getting blown up.”
No word on whether he would have had to grow a mustache.
In theaters nationwide, director Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, with Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt.