Tom Cruise has flirted with sequels over the course of his career. He’s currently dancing around the possibility of Top Gun 2. And studios have tried to get him back in the saddle for follow-ups to his biggest hits. But so far, the only franchise Cruise has ever returned to, time after time, is the Mission: Impossible series, and I wanted to find out why.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and speak with Tom Cruise on the event’s red carpet. After pointing out that Ethan Hunt is the only character in his body of work that he has chosen to develop and return to, I asked Cruise if there was another character he had played in his past who he wants to continue playing, to see where their story goes. He told me:
I don’t know, I mean. That’s why I haven’t done any [sequels], is because I really feel that this is what I’m interested in right now. I don’t know any other ones… I really feel privileged to be able to have made five of these. Every time I go out, I learn more. [Laughs] Every time, you know, a Mission is a very unique movie because of the structure of the movies. To really work on these sequences, you have to work on layer upon layer. It really takes everyone’s effort, from all departments. And [right now], I just love that challenge."

Given the fact that actors frequently look to return to successful franchises, it’s kind of ridiculous that Cruise has managed to avoid cranking out multiple sequels to all of the hits that he has developed over the years. Stars on his level – from Will Smith to Harrison Ford, from Sandra Bullock to Brad Pitt – have made their fair share of sequels. All Cruise wants to do is Mission: Impossible movies, totaling five already over the past 20 years and showing now signs of slowing down.

Now, Tom Cruise’s opinion does seem to be turning. In addition to playing Ethan Hunt again on screen, Cruise – as we reported – has been entertaining Top Gun 2. He also has signed up for Jack Reacher 2, though he will have a different director that time out. So sequels are starting to become part of his strategic plan, though as he told me, up to this point, he just hasn’t been interested in returning to any world that didn’t involve impossible missions. Here’s video of Cruise on the carpet in Vienna, Austria, answering my question:

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opens in theaters on Friday, July 31. Look for plenty more coverage on CinemaBlend all week.