'Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation' stunts: What Tom Cruise is thinking?

'Rogue' stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, who finds his Impossible Mission Force organization endangered and must continue to save the world regardless.

David James/Paramount Pictures/AP
'Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation' stars Tom Cruise (l.) and Rebecca Ferguson (r.).

Imagine this. You're strapped to the outside of a flying jetliner, thousands of feet above ground and rapidly rising. What would be going through your head?

"You're thinking about the lighting, the angle, how's the shot," says Tom Cruise or his latest hair-raising stunt in "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation."

"Plus, you want to live through it."

In Vienna on Thursday for the world premiere of their film, Cruise and other leads in the cast talked to The Associated Press about its making – and how they already miss the months of hard work that went into the fifth in the "Mission: Impossible" series.

With part of the film playing in the Austrian capital, the choice of Vienna made sense. One of the most suspenseful episodes takes the audience to the city's ornate opera house where Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, plays a deadly game of hide-and-go seek with members of The Syndicate, a dark force bent on destroying the earth – and while they're at it, killing Austria's chancellor.

One of the shots fired at the Austrian politician before his car is blown up is by Ilsa Faust. Played by Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson, she appears by turns to be a baddie then Hunt's ally. It all turns out well in the end, both in the film and for Ferguson, who says she has grown through the experience.

"It's been such a ride, when it comes to challenging yourself, physically working alongside Tom Cruise," she said. Ferguson, who trained intensely for weeks for the physicality she displayed in the film's fighting scenes, called the experience "exhausting, exhilarating, and ... intoxicating," adding: "Now I'm sort of decommissioning, realizing what actually has happened."

Ditto for the regulars. Simon Pegg as Hunt sidekick Benji Dunn has seen his share of "Mission: Impossible sequels" and wants more.

"It's something I relish," he said. "When I'm on 'Mission Impossible,' I don't want to be doing anything else."

He tipped the hat to director and screen writer Christopher McQuarrie when asked how the improbable becomes believable in the film.

McQuarrie said Pegg was "able to really invest the script with a sense of impossibility and adventure – but also with character and things that made the characters more relatable and more real.

"No matter how spectacular the action is, if you don't care about the people involved in the action, then it's meaningless."

But ultimately, the latest "Mission: Impossible" is about the action — like all others before it. Wearing contact lenses to protect his eyes from specks of debris, Cruise hangs on the Airbus, scrapes his knee on the asphalt in a breathtaking motorcycle chase, and holds his breath for a full six minutes under water as he battles – and ultimately destroys – The Syndicate.

He smiles, when asked if he is close to the limit with his ever-more daring stunts.

"I've always done that, pushing myself," he said. "I'm thinking about the audience and what can I do to entertain the audience."

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