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Tom Cruise Drops Out of 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'

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May 25, 2013 | 9:52am EDT

Credit: Brian To/WENN

Tom Cruise had a real Sophie’s Choice before him: which 1960s TV series about secret agents taking on high-flying missions to defend the world against the international forces of evil would he choose to adapt for the big screen next? A fixture of the Mission: Impossible film franchise, Cruise was already set for a fifth go as Ethan Hunt when word spread that he was boarding Guy Ritchie’s cinematic take on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well. Deadline reports, however, that the blockbuster star has opted out of the latter picture, hoping to focus his energies entirely on M:I 5.

Although Cruise boarded U.N.C.L.E. with every intention of headlining both movies, even he — the man who rappelled from the tallest building in the world and claimed ownership of the most memorable episode of the most beloved talk show on television (that Oprah’s couch debacle) — had to recognize the endeavor was too grand. This is the same project that George Clooney exited back in 2011, citing the physical demands of the movie to be beyond his capabilities. Armie Hammer reportedly remains firmly on board as the second-in-command character, Illya Kuryakin. But perhaps the absence of Cruise, and his own escalating stardom, will promote Hammer to the lead position: Napoleon Solo (the greatest name in American fiction).

Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter

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