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Tom Cruise admits he was terrified during airplane stunt in new Mission: Impossible film

Tom Cruise has his detractors, but one thing you can’t fault the actor for is his willingness to risk life and limb to add another level of realism to a cinematic stunt.

Case in point: When a scene in the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation called for Cruise’s secret-agent character Ethan Hunt to cling to the side of an airplane as it takes off, the veteran actor soon found himself hanging from an Airbus A400M aircraft 5,000 feet in the air. It was a feat he pulled off not once but eight times for the dramatic, death-defying sequence.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” laughed Cruise during a presentation of behind-the-scenes footage from Rogue Nation at the recent CinemaCon film convention (as reported by Variety). “I want to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.”

Related: Tom Cruise doesn’t need a ticket to fly in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation trailer

In order to make it happen, Cruise had to wear special contact lenses that would allow him to keep his eyes open amid all of the wind, and the crew had to find ways to prevent birds from colliding with the actor and avoid bathing him in fumes from the jet fuel.

“I’m actually scared shitless,” said Cruise while narrating footage of him prepping for the sequence.

In the past, Cruise’s willingness — and desire — to perform many of his own stunts has resulted in him hanging from the dizzying heights of Dead Horse Point, Utah (in Mission: Impossible 2), and running along the outside of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol).

“He’s actually out there doing these things,” said Paramount Pictures Vice-Chairman Rob Moore, during the presentation.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation hits theaters July 31, 2015.