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MI:5 Director Talks the Politics of Rebecca Ferguson’s Shoes

Look what Jurassic World hath wrought.

Rebecca Ferguson totally steals the MI:5 show. She’s the Furiosa of the IMF, a believable badass with agency and way more personality than Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt (she also looks like Mariska Hargitay had a baby with the sun, which is obviously besides the point, but holy smokes).

Oddly, one of the simple touches in MI:5 that made Ferguson’s character (Ilsa Faust) believable despite some moments of objectification, was the many scenes in which she either wears flats or removes her heels before/during accomplishing feats of extraordinary daredevilry. It’s a mundane act, so it didn’t occur to me that, in the context of this summer’s blockbusters, a female character removing her heels has become a fraught gesture.

Speaking to Uproxx, MI:5 director Christopher McQuarrie spoke about the criticism Jurassic World received for its infamous ‘running in heels’ scene, and how the MI:5 team considered responding:

We were sort of stunned by it. At one point, a suggestion had been made to sort of capitalize on that – to make a spot that kind of made it about that. Tom and I both said, “Absolutely not.” This is not about twisting the knife or taking shots.

He went on to explain:

It happened because of two things. In the first scene when she appears on screen, we knew she was going to have this fight and her shoes were going to get in the way. And I had written this line, “Nice shoes” – it was this line where Tom was charming the one person while antagonizing the other. And as a result, you had, “Nice shoes.” Then the shoes were a problem, because Rebecca had to fight in them, so we had to work out a way to get her out of her shoes. So, we came up with this idea with the blocking that you see in the scene. All of that was just a practical order of getting her shoes out of the way so she could fight in the upcoming scene.

The next time – and Tom and I literally and utterly forgot about that – so we were now off shooting the opera sequence. And Tom and I always said the first scene where they met is “boy meets girl,” the opera is “first date,” and the motorcycle chase is “the breakup.” And Tom had this real fixation with her taking off his shoes. Because he was like, “At the end of a night, when a guy and a girl have been out on a date and the girl kind of relaxes and has had a great time, she takes off her shoes.” It was always this idea that she was going to walk her back to her hotel with her holding her shoes. And that’s where the shoe thing came from – we were in the midst of this action scene, we were injecting this little feeling of a first date. And we never related it to true events – and it was only after, when the whole Jurassic World thing came out, we thought, “Oh, holy sh*t, we were thinking about the rooftop.”

Now, if only MI:5‘s advertising campaign had reflected that level of care!

To hear McQuarrie talk about creating a believable female character for MI:5 (and his thoughts on Captain Marvel!) you can read the full interview on Uproxx.

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