Tom Cruise's Most Dangerous Stunts

Ben Arnold
Contributor

You might’ve seen photos this week showing Tom Cruise harnessed to the side of a plane flying at 5000ft. Yes, it was actually him.

These insanely dangerous antics made headlines around the world, but it’s all in a day’s work for Cruise, who’s built his career on death-defying stunts. Here are some of our favourites.

- Tom Cruise’s most dangerous stunt?
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Disregarding the pre-flight safety demo (Mission: Impossible 5)

His latest effort saw Cruise hanging from an Airbus A400M, taking off at 250mph, and then ascending to 5000ft, all while wearing a smart suit and some brogues. What’s all the fuss about?

Climbing the Burj Khalifa (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)

Name an actor who wouldn’t climb up - and run down - the tallest building in the world for a movie? Oh yes, that’s all of them. “I literally had to figure a way to fly,” he said at the time, “because even with months of training, I didn’t anticipate the crosswinds you get when you’re up that high. Once I figured out how to use my feet as rudders and got the spatial awareness, we got the shots we wanted.” Just another day at the office. Or on the side of the office, anyway.

Rock climbing in Utah (Mission: Impossible 2)

There were cables involved (they were later digitally removed), but still that was all Cruise, hanging by his fingers from Dead Horse Point in Utah. “Tom insisted on doing it. [He] did all of the climbing except the slip off the overhang - his main stunt double, Keith Campbell, did that stunt,” said cameraman Earl Wiggins. “Tom was on the cliff parts five days for the filming and never complained which is rare for a big star.”

Jetpack Tom (Minority Report)

The frenetic jetpack chase stunt in Minority Report was perilous in real life apparently. Around Cruise, who, guess what, insisted on performing the stunt himself, there were 18 crew keeping him in mid-air, using an 80ft high rig and 1.5 miles of cable.

Riding with the bulls (Knight and Day)

“I always thought I wanted to run with the bulls until I was on a motorcycle doing it, running and getting ping-ponged into walls with big bulls in front of us,” said Cruise. “I was just thinking to myself, ‘Do not go down on this motorcycle with Cameron [Diaz] on the back’.”

Playing with swords (The Last Samurai)

The horses in martial arts epic ‘The Last Samurai’ were mechanical. Predictable, you’d hope? Not so. “One day we were shooting, I was on a mechanical horse and Hiro (Sanada) was on one too,” Cruise said. “He was approaching me and then suddenly his horse hit me and his sword was right here (points an inch from his neck). Luckily Hiro is trained in martial arts. I trust him. We shot the scene from the first swing all the way through to the end. There were over 70 points of contact where you could potentially lose your eye, your ear or your nose.”

Knife in the eye (Mission: Impossible 2)

It’s hard to watch, but when Dougray Scott briefly gets the jump on Cruise in the climactic fight scene, his knife is plunged towards Cruise’s eyeball. Legend has it that Cruise insisted Scott bear down using all his strength. There’s no CGI here. That knife is really that close, and it’s real. Director John Woo wanted it just ‘vaguely near’. Cruise wanted a quarter inch distance.

Fish tank fury (Mission: Impossible)

There was a very real chance of Cruise drowning during the aquarium stunt in the Prague restaurant from the first Mission: Impossible movie. As the tanks explode, that’s a sturdy 16 tons of water waiting to take Cruise to Davy Jones’ locker. Did he give a monkey’s? Nope. He did not.

Image credits: Famefly.net/Paramount/Rex Features/Fox/Warner Bros