Exclusive Interview: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ Director Brad Bird

Plucked from the world of animation, where he fashioned such all-time genre classics as The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Brad Bird was an unexpected choice to helm Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, if only because he’d never actually made a live-action feature film before. One would assume $200 million studio tentpoles to be less-than-ideal debut projects, even for rookies as brilliant and capable as Bird.

Experience, it turns out, is highly overrated. Advance reviews for Ghost Protocol have praised Bird for bringing a sense of playfulness and showmanship to Tom Cruise’s supersy saga, which, frankly, sorely needed it after 2006’s downright maudlin Mission: Impossible III. We caught up with the director recently to talk about his animation-to-live-action transition, his Raider of the Lost Ark inspirations, his love of IMAX, and the anxiety of watching his irreplaceable star/producer risk life and limb for the sake of a cool stunt:

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is now playing in IMAX theaters. It opens everywhere else tomorrow, December 21, 2011.