When you think of the name Brad Bird, you automatically associate him with critically praised animated films such as "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" and "The Iron Giant." He's been a shining star in the animation front for the past decade, so when he suddenly decided to go the live-action route plenty of his fans were on board, especially since he started by making his mark in one of the bigger action franchises out there. Now here we are on the opening week of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," the fourth installment of the popular franchise starring Tom Crusie. Brad Bird discusses with us the thrill of directing the action flick, the new gadgets that are close to some that exist in the real world and the never-ending question about his future with other animated films, particularly a sequel that fans have been wanting for half a decade now.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are racing against time to track down a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States. An attempt by the team to stop him at the Kremlin ends in a disaster, forcing the President to invoke Ghost Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or backup in any form. Undaunted, Ethan and his team chase Hendricks around the globe, but despite their efforts they might still be too late to stop a horrendous disaster. Latino Review: Were you a fan of Mission Impossible the TV show?
Brad Bird: Yeah. I saw them when I was really a kid. You know, it’s been running forever. Just the premise of it, it’s in the title. If ever you could distill it to two words, it’s Mission Impossible. I think there’s something very fun about that idea.
Latino Review: Was there any pressure to outdo the last movie?
Brad Bird: I think that there’s always somewhat that pressure. I think that if you think about it that way, I think you just have to go, what’s the best one I can make? You know? And what would I like to see? And they gave me permission to play in that sandbox the way I wanted to, so I did.
Latino Review: Gadgets are always important in the spy movies. So this, the one scene we saw, there’s like 4 or 5 new gadgets. Did you contribute any new gadgets?
Brad Bird: Well the idea of how the gloves could work, I had something to do with. They had this sequence, when they pitched it to me, but we found out that they’re actually working on gloves that do that. What they do is they mimic geckos, which people didn’t understand that for the longest time there are tiny hairs that interact and there’s a way to put current through it. It’s called the Vanderwall Effect. And it creates adhesion that you can then disengage, but it holds you. Just like a gecko can peel his hand or paw or whatever you call it, claw off and replant it and it supports its weight. So they’re actually working on something like that, so the idea of it being that kind of thing is actually, not, they haven’t got it yet but they’re on their way to it. Yeah, there’s some odds and ends in the film, but there were a lot of good ones before I arrived that I was just like, oh boy. Can’t wait to show that.
Latino Review: Did you play with the story at all?
Brad Bird: Yes. I mean, they’d been working on it for about a year. J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise and the writers, Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemick, for about a year. And they had several set pieces they were determined—climbing the bridge was one of them. That they were going to have in there, and that’s what attracted me to it. But they also asked if there was anything you would love to see in a spy movie. I pitched them several things and several of them ended up being in the movie, with the sand storm being one of them. So I definitely got to throw a lot of stuff into the mix. Latino Review: Has this project turned you on more to doing more live action?
Brad Bird: Absolutely, but I would not say that I want to never make another animated film. I love the medium of film, which is there whether you’re doing animation or live action. I think how I would love to approach it is just be passionate about the story and then just find the best medium to tell that story in.
Latino Review: Well everyone loves "The Incredibles" and everyone always wants to know if there’s a chance of another one. Obviously you’re busy doing other things, but if someone else at Pixar had an idea for it, could you see giving them a blessing to do "Incredibles 2"?
Brad Bird: I’m not—some people could, and I’d like to think that maybe on some level—I would hate to think that I’m being barbaric or anything, but that sounds—what I’m hearing and it’s not what you’re saying, but what I’m hearing is so if someone else wanted to have your children, could they take them and do what they wanted to with them for a while. Would you ship them off? And I’d go no! If I could come up with a complete idea that I felt was as sound as the first one, I would love to go back to that world because I love the characters. And I wouldn't rule it out because it’s a world that I am very fond of. And I have some good ideas for it. I don’t have a whole movie’s worth yet. But certainly if I got it all together I would love to do it with Pixar, and I love working with Pixar, too.
"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is out in theaters and IMAX everywhere now.