With Mission Impossible: Fallout propelled into theaters and doing gangbusters at the box office, director Christopher McQuarrie deserves to take a break from promoting his spy-thriller and reflect upon on more pressing matters. Such as, why didn’t he allow Warner Bros. to shave off Henry Cavill‘s mustache for the Justice League reshoots? In case you are in the dark regarding the infamous face-furniture drama known as Stache-Gate, the saga centers around Cavill growing a wondrous lip toupée for filming the latest Mission Impossible flick, but being requested back onset for significant Justice League reshoots in the middle of shooting McQuarrie’s masterpiece.
Legend has it that McQuarrie refused to allow Cavill to shave his manometer (as stipulated in his contract), so when Cavill returned to film additional scenes for Justice League his Superman sported an epic soup strainer. Superman with a mouth brow is clearly unacceptable, so Warner Bros. forcibly removed the crumb catcher via time-consuming and extraordinarily expensive post-production CGI work. The end result is the abomination you see above.
But now McQuarrie is setting the record straight. In an interview with Empire, he reveals that he actually agreed to let Cavill shave his mustache for the Justice League reshoots. “When the question came – the reshoots for Justice League came out – [Charles] Roven called me, and he said, ‘We need your help and we need to shave Henry [Cavill]’s mustache,” McQuarrie said. “We need him to come back and we need to do these reshoots.’ And I said, ‘Look, Chuck, naturally I want to do everything I can to help you, but I also have to think about our production. Let me talk to everybody and figure out what the scheduling would be.’ And I went and spoke to Jake Myers, and the suggestion was made through channels that we shave the mustache and Henry could begin to grow the mustache back and that then there would be – they would give us the resources to digitally fill in Henry’s mustache. Because like it or not, a fake mustache in close-up on a 75mm lens is never going to look like anything but a fake mustache.”
Unfortunately, the proposition of partially-CGI face lace didn’t pass the mustard. “So, we offered the following compromise: Jake Myers calculated the amount of money that it would take to replace the number of shots, and essentially what Jake was able to project was about a $3 million visual effects budget,” McQuarrie said. The break in shooting would cost Paramount a fairly significant chunk of change, and the Fallout shoot had already suffered a major delay (and major expense) when Tom Cruise broke his ankle during filming.
“So, I don’t know how much Henry was in Justice League,” McQuarrie continued. “I’ve never seen the movie, but I can tell you how much it would’ve cost for Mission: Impossible to digitally add Henry Cavill’s mustache, and we said yes. We said, here’s what we’ll do: give us the $3 million and we’ll shut down, and that will give Henry Cavill the time to grow his mustache back, and we’ll just shut our movie down. …We said we’ll do this, at which point, somebody from Paramount Pictures said, ‘What is going on? What are you people even talking about?’ They’re like, ‘There’s no way we’re going to do that.’ We were just like, ‘Okay.’ That was the best plan that we could come up with.”
Thus ends Stache-Gate, the tale of the bristle batons heard ’round the world, and McQuarrie is vindicated. You can currently see Cavill’s glorious (and real) lip caterpillar in theaters now in Mission Impossible: Fallout. And you can witness stache-less Cavill in Justice League, out now on DVD, Blu-ray, and lip-waxing infomercials everywhere.