And as for casting Werner Herzog as the villain? It's a genius move that endeared the films to cinephiles the world over, and McQuarrie gives all the credit to his casting director, Mindy Marin. "I gave her my list of criteria. The main ones being that I wanted somebody European and unknown to a wider audience," he explained. "I thought the villian would be a lot more intimidating if he was somebody unfamiliar. And the first name out of her mouth was Werner Herzog which I thought was an inspired idea but we would obviously never get him."
A week later McQuarrie was on the phone with an excited Herzog, who was very keen to take on the role, but of course, this triggered second-guessing doubts. "I was suddenly worried that he was too unfamiliar and that he was gonna feel like a documentary character in a Tom Cruise movie," McQuarrie said. The director vacillated back and forth, but it was Tom Cruise who gave him the best advice possible. "It's Werner Herzog, man. I don't understand. Like just hire the guy."
Herzog became a favorite on the set of the actors and the crew. "We had about 90 minutes put aside for us to rehearse some of the scenes towards the end of the movie and the trailer and the first three hours of that 90 minute meeting were Werner Herzog telling stories about his experience in an African prison," McQuarrie laughed. "That was kinda what the relationship was. He would never leave the set. He would just hang out with the crew, he would hang out with the other actors and he's still very much a student of film. And was also there constantly observing and constantly learning. And it was just a great."