To a film production company, actors are the most valuable assets. Without actors, you can’t complete a movie, and without big stars, you can’t get people to see it either. This is the key reason why stunt doubles exist, individuals willing to replace the original actor for a particularly dangerous sequence, jumping out of a building or evading a large explosion in order to protect the livelihood of the lead actor.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule, with actors like Jackie Chan and Tom Cruise famous for doing (mostly) their own stunts. Whilst Chan has shown his robust skills in bombastic Hong Kong action films, Tom Cruise has shown his versatility across several different genres, though is most well-known for the Mission: Impossible series of which he also produces. From climbing Dubai’s Burj Khalifa to hanging off the back of an Airbus 400, Cruise is known for taking on some truly death-defying stunts all in favour of the quality of the final film.
“It has to do with storytelling … It allows us to put cameras in places that you’re not normally able to do,” Cruise explains when being asked why he does all his own stunts. Though in August 2017 the actor would learn the hard way the dangers of doing all your own stunts, particularly when the stunts themselves involve high levels of risk.
Whilst filming in London during the production of the sixth film in the series, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Tom Cruise injured his right leg whilst trying to leap from the edge of one building to another, snapping his ankle in the process. The studio were forced to halt production of the film for at least nine weeks to allow Crusie’s ankle and leg to heal, costing the studio around $80 million in total as the studio had to pay the cast and crew for the eight-week hiatus.
Remarkably, filming resumed just seven weeks after Cruise’s initial injury, two weeks earlier than initially planned, with shocking footage of the incident now available to watch in sickening slow motion.
Reflecting on his action-packed career Cruise stated, “I am a very physical actor and I love doing them. I study and train and take a lot of time figuring it all out. I have broken a lot of bones!…the first time of any stunt is nerve-wracking but it is also exhilarating. I have been told a few times during shooting a stunt to stop smiling!”.
The yet-untitled Mission: Impossible 7, set for release in May 2022, also looks to include another death-defying Cruise stunt, with recent images from the set showing the actor riding a motorcycle off a cliff. As the actor and stuntman said, “If the wind was too strong, it would blow me off the ramp…The helicopter [filming the stunt] was a problem, because I didn’t want to be hammering down that ramp at top speed and get hit by a stone. Or if I departed in a weird way, we didn’t know what was going to happen with the bike”.
Despite being 58 years of age it seems as though Tom Cruise isn’t planning on giving up the stunt work anytime soon.
See the footage below but, trigger warning, it is horrible.