Whereas most stunts in Hollywood productions are taken on by highly trained specialists (often in ill-fitting wigs), it’s well known that actor Tom Cruise has always been keen to perform his own action sequences whenever possible.
Take, for example, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which hits screens later this month. A scene we first glimpsed earlier this year sees Cruise’s secret-agent character Ethan Hunt clinging onto the side of an Airbus A400M military aircraft as it hurtles down the runway before, incredibly, taking off. No green screen, no CGI, no stuntman in a dodgy hairpiece.
Milking the thrilling sequence for all its worth, the production team this week posted a short behind-the-scenes video offering up a few more tidbits about the extraordinary feat, which, when it shows up on the big screen in a few weeks time, could have nervous fliers reaching for the vomit bag (better take your own, movie theaters don’t provide them).
The star admitted a few months ago that he was “scared shitless” about performing the stunt, which took place at an airfield in England last October, but decided it was something he really wanted to do.
Recounting the story behind it, Cruise said he was so nervous that he couldn’t get any sleep the night before. It was probably just as well, as the nightmares would surely have been horrendous – a bird strike taking his head clean off; losing his grip on the aircraft and his harness coming loose; catastrophic mechanical failure the second the plane leaves terra firma, that kind of thing.
On the morning of the big day, the Hollywood actor said his main thought was: “OK, this is really gonna happen.” And happen it did. Eight times, in fact. It’s not clear why so many takes were needed, though perhaps Tom simply looked too darn terrified in the first seven. Cruise was certainly well aware that there was no room for error, saying, “If something went wrong, I can’t get into the airplane.”
Wade Eastwood, the movie’s stunt coordinator, put it more bluntly: “There’s no little crash and a scratch. You’re dead.”