The one actor that turned down Tom Cruise – even after the Hollywood icon begged him for help

Boasting the charisma, talent and a perfectly chiseled face highlighted by his heart-melting smile, Tom Cruise’s unparalleled popularity is surely contagious to any actor who has their name credited in a film next to his.

As one of Hollywood’s hottest stars it’s safe to say that Cruise is not used to rejection. But one actor, who Cruise revered enough to call, refused the rare offer of starring with the globetrotting agent in the next two installments of Mission: Impossible.

Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood’s most decorated actors, is known to be determined, charismatic and fearless.

The 1980s heartthrob, who carried that title over his 40 years of acting, is a global phenom, and co-starring with him in a film is guaranteed to elevate the profile of any actor.

Wikipedia Commons / Alan Light

He’s the total package, a producer’s dream, whose diverse talents allow him to play any character–from comedy to drama to action–and he can even sing, as he proves in his performance of the self-indulgent rocker in Rock of Ages.

Moreover, Cruise also performs his own stunts, which is Risky Business for the 60-year-old actor who’s worth $600 million, and surely a lot more to his fans.

It’s expected that any actor would jump at the chance to star alongside Cruise, especially in the Mission: Impossible franchise, which has eight films that include the soon to be released M:I Dead Reckoning Part One and Part Two that will be released in July 2024.

It’s for these two films, that will be released in July 2023 and July 2024, that Cruise was denied by actor Nicholas Hoult, who stars with Nicholas Cage in the slasher comedy film Renfeld.

No stranger to rejection, Hoult–a dark haired, blue-eyed, taller and younger version of Cruise–had to turn down the role as the villain in Mission: Impossible, despite that Cruise called him to personally to offer the role.


“I screen-tested for Batman and didn’t get it. Screen-tested for Top Gun, didn’t get it,” Hoult explains in the Guardian. “Then I got the call from Tom Cruise: ‘Hey, how about Mission: Impossible?’ OK. Got it. Then I had to drop out because I was already attached to do some more of The Great.”

The 33-year-old British actor has a starring role on the satirical comedy The Great, a Hulu TV series that is now in its third season.

Without question, having to say “no” to Tom Cruise would have been devastating for Hoult, but given the demanding schedule of the action-packed Mission: Impossible, and his commitments to earlier work, Hoult had no choice.

And it turned out to be a blessing for Esai Morales, a 60-year-old actor who’s known for roles in the TV series NYPD Blue (2001 to 2004) and films Bad Boys with Sean Penn and 1987’s La Bamba. Morales was awarded the role intended to go to Hoult, who surely has regrets over missing out on the incredible opportunity of working with Cruise.

Mission: Impossible co-star Vanessa Kirby, 35, who reprises her role as the White Widow, says she loves being part of the franchise.

Praising Cruise on how “calm” he was in performing a dizzying stunt for M:I Dead Reckoning Part One, Kirby said, “He did it consecutively … and repeatedly so he could capture all the different angles and sides of it. He was just so calm. He had no fear. He just found it exhilarating.” She continued, “That kind of belief in cinema and what one could achieve and his passion for it is so inspiring. He kind of believes he can do the impossible and then he does…I love being a part of the franchise.”


Sharing his most daring stunt to date, Cruise posted a video that captures his base jump, on a motorcycle, off a steep cliff in Norway for the seventh Mission: Impossible film.

“This is far and away the most dangerous thing we’ve ever attempted,” said the Top Gun star. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid. Don’t be careful, be confident.”

Long before Cruise played the recklessly daring senior field agent Ethan Hunt, he was a senior bloodsucker in Interview with a Vampire, a 1994 film based on the book written by Anne Rice.

The film, the first in the Vampire Chronicles, follows a centuries-old vampire, Lestat (Cruise), and his young progeny, Louis, that’s played by Brad Pitt, the gorgeous newcomer who at the time was best known for Thelma Louise (1991), A River Runs Through it (1992) and Legends of the Fall (1994).

Though he was a fan of the books, Pitt said he was “miserable” when filming, in part due to the environment of literal darkness.

“I (was) miserable. Six months in the f—ing dark. Now I’d be able to say, ‘This is a problem. I’m out of here, or we fix this,’” Pitt shared with Entertainment Weekly. “We were shooting nights. So I just rode my bike around all night. I made some great friends there. But then we get to London, and London was f––ing dark. London was dead of winter…I’m telling you, one day it broke me. It was like, life’s too short for this quality of life.”

Explaining that breaking the contract would have cost him $40 million–money the new star didn’t yet have–Pitt completed the film.


The other part of his misery can likely be connected to the “competition” between the two Hollywood hunks.

Pitt continued, “You gotta understand, Tom and I are… we walk in different directions. He’s North Pole. I’m South. He’s coming at you with a handshake [Pitt mimicked Cruise’s hyper-aggressive hello] where I may bump into you, I may not, you know?”

The two actors were almost reunited in the 2019 sports drama, Ford vs Ferrari, a film about the friendship and conflict between car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles.

Joseph Kosinski, the director who was later replaced by James Mangold, explained why he wanted to bring the Days of Thunder star and Pitt together in lead roles.

“And that story was one of those great stories of an incredible friendship and an incredible rivalry and an incredibly dangerous race,” Kosinski said. “…I wouldn’t say we got close to production, but I got to the point where I had Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt at a table read reading the script together, which was pretty amazing. But we couldn’t get the budget to the number it had to be at.”

Ford vs Ferrari was a box office hit that won two Academy Awards and numerous nominations, and had a budget of about $100 million, enough to cast superstars Christian Bale and Matt Damon. This begs the question: how much would it have cost to get Cruise and Pitt?

Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One is in theaters this July!

Tom Cruise arrives for the “Jack Reacher” premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. 10/12/2012 Picture by: Steve Vas

We cannot imagine the range of emotions Nicholas Houltz must have experienced in first getting that phone call from Tom Cruise, and then having to turn him down. If he called me, I’d drop everything, in a heartbeat!

What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie? More specifically, what Mission: Impossible film do you most enjoy?