Source: FILM.TV [German interview - translated & edited]

Date: December 2011

There has been much talk about the stunt of Tom Cruise's stunt at the Burj Kalifa Tower in Dubai. Were you there when that was filmed?

Yes, I was in Dubai for a month and I was there when he climbed the tower. The guy is really crazy! I was really impressed. Before I do that myself, I prefer to shoot myself! I read a Swedish newspaper online at the hotel and they had a holiday video from a Swede who filmed his wife in front of one of the windows in the Burj Kalifa. She just said a few greetings to the family: "Hi, I'm here in the Burj Kalifa, the tallest building in the world, outside you see Dubai - and there's Tom Cruise." The camera wobbles, the man asks "what?" and she says, "Yes, Tom Cruise was just climbing down there." And then he came up again. He had to take another shot and waved into the camera.

So far, hardly anyone has seen the movie. I have just watched the trailer again. You are only briefly seen in it. Do they keeping your role deliberately secret? Are you the phantom of the movie?

I am playing a somewhat enigmatic guy in the movie. And I have not paid enough, so that I only briefly appear in the trailer... No, that was a joke.

In the previous movie, "MI: 3" Philip Seymour Hoffman played the villain. Did you look at him and think "I have to compete if I want to impress"?

I have not seen the movie but Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the best actors I know. I'm totally impressed with everything he does, but I do my own thing. And I also play a very different character.

Did you have any influence on the role, or was everything written down when you agreed to the film?

I think when people call me and give me a role, they know something special comes out of it. I have to take the role in myself. For me, that was a very interesting role, a very different character than anything I've done before, and I developed it together with Brad (the director) and Tom and directed it in a certain direction.

Did you work a lot with Tom Cruise? The characters in "Mission Impossible" usually hunt all over the world, but sometimes the hero and the top villain meet each other in the final. How was that in this case?

We worked together a lot. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal too much. But what I can say is that the time with Tom was a lot of fun. Because we  found we have the same drive. We go from 0 to 100 in one second. So we have intensified the intensity in each scene. It was really fun and he is a great actor to work with.

My impression is that "Mission Impossible" is also a personal thing for Tom Cruise, that he sees it as his brand, that it means more to him than other films. Do you share that view?

No, I did not think so. The film takes a slightly different direction. But I did not have that impression.

Director Brad Bird has previously only made animation films. How was it working with him?

What he brought was a great way to tell stories, very effective. He builds each scene in a way that drives the story. It made me feel that he is very different from other directors I've worked with. On the other hand, he is a completely open type. He takes what he is able to get, and he knows what he wants. I never felt like a cartoon character. And he's a very sociable guy with a great sense of humor. He impressed me.

How did you come up with the role in "Mission Impossible? Did you just go to Stockholm when a call came from Hollywood?

No, I was filming in Pittsburgh ("Abduction" with Taylor Lautner) and had a week off, so I was in New York seeing friends. There they called me and asked, "Would you like to let Tom Cruise hunt you for a few months?" and I thought "yes, why not?"

You have already made some international films outside of Sweden, but mostly smaller productions. "Mission Impossible 4", on the other hand, is a huge project in which every actor would like to be there. Do you see this as a kind of breakthrough?

Michael Nykvist: "MI: 4" is, in a sense, an American James Bond film. Everyone on the planet knows "Mission Impossible". I am honored. The shoot took a long time. It became my life. We traveled around the world and had a great time. I do not know how old I was when I saw "Mission Impossible" for the first time. It's huge fun. Where I come from as an actor, you mainly shoot dramas - that's what I love too. But to shoot an action movie, and then in the US, where you understand something of it, that was a challenge and a kick.