Ranking Tom Cruise’s Craziest Stunts, From Gravity Defying to Skyscraper Climbing
Tom Cruise loves the Danger Zone.
Tom Cruise has an acting career of more than 40 years, and even though he’s 60 years old, he is still widely known for doing his own stunts. While it wasn’t like this from the beginning of his career because most studios don’t want to risk stars doing their own stunts, once he started producing his own movies, namely the Mission Impossible franchise, everything changed.
Cruise’s action stunts are nothing short of impressive; thus, we decided to rank his craziest stunts. But before we do, we need to include an honorable mention for the motorcycle jump the actor is performing in his upcoming movie Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One.
We haven’t seen the edited scene yet, but the behind-the-scenes look epic. Only Tom Cruise would skydive 500 times as practice to then venture with a motorcycle off a cliff, not once but six times, during a day, just because.
10. Zero-Gravity Cargo-Plane Crash (The Mummy)
During the 2017’s The Mummy, Tom Cruise’s character, Nick Norton, is stuck with Jenny Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis, in a cargo plane, free-falling, set to crash. Normally, this type of scene would be filmed in a controlled environment, probably with a green screen.
But of course, Cruise wanted to do the stunt for real, which implicated using an airplane used by NASA to train astronauts. As such, he and his co-star went through a 22-second free fall from 25,000 feet so they could replicate zero gravity. This scene was incredibly hard to pull off because it was nearly impossible to practice and recreate it time and time again. Thus, Cruise did it four times.
9. Climbing a 2,000-Foot Cliff (Mission: Impossible 2)
During the opening scene of Mission: Impossible 2, also known as M:I-2, we get to see Tom Cruise as he climbs a 2,000-foot cliff in Utah. For this particular scene, the actor trained with stunt double Ron Kauk, who escorted him into position in each shot. It took him five days to film.
While for the audience, the climb looks completely heroic, Cruise was, at all moments, attached to safety cables and/or harnesses that were later removed thanks to CGI. Still, the actor performed an incredible 15-feet leap from one side of the mountain to the other, which, even with the protection, shows how much dedication he put into that stunt.
8. Dealing With G-Forces in a F/A-18 Jet (Top Gun: Maverick)
While in the original Top Gun, Cruise didn’t play around that much, Top Gun: Maverick certainly allowed him to show off his piloting skills. So when you look at the movie and see everyone with distorted faces while flying the jets, that’s because Cruise convinced the cast to train on F/A-18 jets to make the scenes more realistic. So yes, they are really flying the jets and battling G-forces.
On top of that, it’s worth mentioning that Joseph Kosinski, the director, confirmed that the Navy granted Tom special permission to perform some of the stunts, which we can see when Maverick is flying at very low altitudes. On top of that, Top Gun: Maverick made him the first actor in a movie to do a real launch off and land on a carrier. Impressive, right?
7. Knife to the Eye (Mission: Impossible 2)
Another stunt from the second Mission: Impossible installment, and while this one might not seem like a big deal, it’s incredibly dangerous, and if gone wrong, it could have permanently damaged Cruise’s sight. Both Tom and the director, John Woo, wanted to make a knife fight scene that would look authentic and realistic.
Thus, they had Cruise’s co-star Dougrat Scott push a real knife into his eyeball. While the knife was connected to a measured cable that ensured a quarter-inch distance from his eye, a wrong move could’ve blinded Tom Cruise in one of his eyes.
6. Building Jump (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Fallout, the sixth Mission: Impossible, is full of crazy stunts, so this is just the first one you’ll see on this list. To be honest, Cruise jumping from one building to another doesn’t sound that life-threatening, yet, when he was being chased by his co-star Henry Cavill, and he had to perform the jump, well… it didn’t go according to plan and Cruise hit the wall of the building and broke his ankle.
He did have a couple of safety wires attached, but he didn’t run fast enough to perform a precise landing. While rumors grew that his running days could be over, he was quickly back on set sprinting.
5. Helicopter Chase (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
After many insane stunts through Fallout, the actor decides to surprise the audience with a final act that consisted of yet another Cruise and Cavill chase, but this time at high speed with helicopters in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Thus, Tom had to train 16 hours per day to get the required 2,000 hours so he could fly a helicopter on his own. After getting his license and training the maneuvers with a stunt coordinator, he was ready to do it by himself.
Besides flying the helicopter, the actor performed a 360-degree corkscrew dive, which is challenging even for veteran pilots. These scenes were long takes that didn’t rely on any special effects. As a result, Cruise is, indeed, chasing Henry Cavill, who is in another helicopter piloted by a professional.
4. Halo Jump (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
The best stunt in Fallout is definitely the HALO jump (Cruise was the first actor ever to do it!). This is a jump made from a high altitude (25,000 feet in this case), out of a giant C-17 plane, with a low-open skydive, in which Cruise opens the parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for some time. Thus, allowing his character, Ethan Hunt, to get into Paris unnoticed.
This scene was filmed after the broken ankle, but who could tell? In fact, Tom Cruise jumped 106 times over the period of two weeks. It was an incredibly dangerous scene to film, as at such heights, there can be a lack of oxygen, numbing the brain’s functions and stopping a person from opening the parachute.
At the same time, this scene wasn’t just about jumping and parachuting but also about positioning close to the camera and acting accordingly with other stunt doubles. Moreover, it was set at night, which made their time to shoot limited, so the fewer mistakes, the better.
It’s worth noting that at the time Fallout was being filmed, the movie industry was going through a shift that put more focus on CGI so scenes like this one could be done easier, involving less risk and costs. But, of course, that’s not why Cruise is in the industry.
3. Underwater Vault (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation)
If you’re not trained, it’s probable that you can hold your breath for around 30 seconds. Well, Tom held his breath for more than six minutes on a 20-foot deep-water safe while he also had to act and retrieve a computer chip and keep away from a crane that was circling around the safe. This all came down to training with experts that taught him how to slow down his heart rate so that his body would require less oxygen.
While most actors hold their breath for ten seconds at a time when filming underwater, and later on, everything is pieced together in editing, Cruise couldn’t have done it any other way in Rogue Nation (the fifth installment of Mission: Impossible). According to the stunt coordinator, Wade Eastwood, the actor blacked out during filming a few times. In fact, Cruise admitted that the experience was unpleasant and that it took him a while to shake off all the training and that sometimes he would suddenly notice he wasn’t breathing.
2. Climbing Burj Khalifa (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol)
C’mon, climbing the tallest building in the world? For Ghost Protocol, the fourth Mission: Impossible movie, the actor’s climb on The Burj Khalifa in Dubai got him 1,700 feet in the air. On top of that, he got to fall four stories down by rappelling on the surface of the building. Just like the cliff scene, Cruise was strapped onto a safety harness that was later removed in post-production by CGI. Yet, this stunt is incredibly insane as the glass windows were extremely hot, and the wind was super strong and fast, which made it difficult to coordinate.
No matter how awesome the result was in the end, the truth is that this was a very controversial stunt, as the production’s insurance didn’t want the actor climbing the exterior of the building. Cruise didn’t give up and found his own insurance company and performed the stunt without approval from the movie’s safety team.
On the second rehearsal, Tom had it, and on the next day, they shot it twice, and it was done. Of course, the actor wanted more, and before filming, one morning, he asked to sit at the top of the tower without any safety harness just to take a picture. Go figure!
Word-of-mouth spread fast, and while the movie was not that promoted, it ended up being very successful and credited for bringing back interest to the franchise. In the end, the stunt was worth it for many reasons.
1. Hanging From a Plane (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation)
Eight times. That’s how many times Tom Cruise hanged to the side of an Airbus A400M plane taking off at a speed of 100 knots, reaching 1,000 feet. Holding his breath for six minutes was not enough. The stunt was shot within 48 hours. While the actor was secured to the plane with a wire and wore special contact lenses to avoid any eye damage, this stunt is the craziest so far.
At such a speed, no one can see anything nor think of a reaction to have, yet he was also acting! On top of that, if anything went wrong safety-wise, death was certain, just like in some of his other stunts, but this one does feel particularly brutal, as Tom couldn’t get into the plane until it landed.
The actor admitted that he was very nervous about this stunt, so much so that he couldn’t sleep the night before. Moreover, because of the plane’s high speed, while filming, a tiny pebble hit Cruise in the rib, nearly bursting it.
The realism this stunt brings to the scene is incredible, and thanks to the known stunt work of Cruise, everyone in the audience believes that he’s been through anything that appears on the screen. Thus, it’s hard to keep it cool and not worry when watching this scene.
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