In case you somehow haven’t noticed: Tom Cruise is crazy. Say what you want about the man’s controversial personal beliefs, but there just no way in hell that his commitment to a role can ever be doubted. The 54-year old actor is infamous for totally getting into character and doing as many of his own high-flying stunts as possible – often at the expense of the frayed nerves of the filmmakers and studio execs he works with.
While he’s done hair-raising things in other films, like the driving sequences in Jack Reacher and the motorcycle chase in Knight and Day, his daredevil antics are especially true when it comes to the Mission: Impossible franchise, which has given Cruise arguably his most recognizable role as super spy Ethan Hunt. While Brian de Palma’s first film does have that iconic suspension harness stunt, it’s incredibly tame compared to what came afterwards. M:I 2 had him genuinely free-climbing Dead Horse Point Cliffs (he was convinced to wear a tiny harness that was digitally removed in post, but there was no safety net) and even resulted in him horribly wrenching his shoulder by actually doing those insane rock to rock jumps.
Oh and that shot where Dougray Scott’s character lunges at his face with a knife, and Cruise stops it just an inch from his eyeball? Totally real. The knife was just attached to a precisely measured cable to stop Scott from accidentally blinding him, but if Cruise himself moved his head forward even slightly it was a pirate’s life for him.
The JJ Abrams directed M:I 3 saw things escalate further as Cruise somehow convinced everybody it would be okay to really have a wildly careening truck pass just inches over his face as he plastered himself to the road underneath it. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol created arguably the most visually impressive – and most stomach-churning – stunt in the franchise as Cruise scaled the glass covered outside of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Then in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation he found a way to go even higher, by literally dangling outside the doorway of an Airbus as it took off and then flew high above the English countryside. Hell, he even did a stunt where he held his breath underwater for a full 6- minutes even though it totally wasn’t necessary as the scene isn’t that long!
Like I said, crazy (Or as Trevor suspects, he desperately wants out of the Church of Scientology and killing himself onscreen is his only legitimate exit strategy). And Cruise is apparently about to get even crazier. While chatting to Collider, Skydance Media CEO David Ellison revealed that the upcoming Mission: Impossible 6, which sees Rogue Nation’s Chris McQuarrie return to write/direct, has Cruise preparing for something insane.
“We’re thrilled. Chris is back, obviously, writing and directing after Rogue Nation. We could not be more excited about the character Henry Cavill’s going to play. And I will say after the Burj [Khalifa] we thought it was going to be impossible to top that stunt, and then Tom did the A400M for the plane. What Tom is doing in this movie I believe will top anything that’s come before. It is absolutely unbelievable—he’s been training for a year. It is going to be, I believe, the most impressive and unbelievable thing that Tom Cruise has done in a movie, and he has been working on it since right after Rogue Nation came out. It’s gonna be mind-blowing.”
Now McQuarrie himself has taken to Twitter to clarify that Cruise hasn’t been training for a year for just one stunt, but rather a sequence in the upcoming movie. But that being said, what this one particular stunt is that Ellison is referring to must be utterly mental if it’s to “top anything that’s come before”. I mean where do you go from clinging to the side of the plane hundreds of meters in the air? Cruise has just recently finished shooting The Mummy which boasts a scene in which a plane nose dives causing everybody inside to freefall for several minutes, which Cruise – obviously – insisted must be done for real. The man is simply running out of entertaining ways to attempt to kill himself now, so I have no idea what this new stunt will be like.
As Ellison explained further though, Cruise actually has a sound reason for his antics other than just “suicide by spectacle”.
“It all comes from the best place. It is all about entertaining an audience. Tom’s entire mantra for hanging on the side of the Burj Khalifa or the A380 or literally holding your breath for six minutes underwater to do the Taurus sequence is, in a world of massive [visual] effects, he said the audience can tell when it’s you on a green screen or when you’re actually doing it live. And the tension, because the stunt is real, actually puts the audience where Ethan Hunt is where they are in the movie. He said that’s why he does it; it’s all about entertaining an audience and it makes the movie better.”
And after how much better he made the brilliant Rogue Nation, and with the new addition to the cast in Henry Cavill – who was actually a pretty awesome spy in The Man From UNCLE – I’ll definitely be there on opening night to see this latest stunt unfold. .