Top Five Craziest Tom Cruise Stunts

Tom Cruise is the ultimate celebrity daredevil. He’s renowned for performing thrilling, high-risk stunts on his own. It’s become a tradition for fans to expect an over the top stunt from each one of his new films.

It’s easy to get lost in the sheer audaciousness of witnessing his stunts on the big screen, but when you consider the level of training and focus it takes to successfully pull off these death-defying stunts, you’re reminded of how Cruise is truly one of the hardest working stars in Hollywood.

In honour of his 58th birthday, we’re taking a look at five of the craziest stunts Tom Cruise has ever performed. We can’t wait to see what’s in-store for us in his next adventure, Top Gun: Maverick, but in the meantime, this trip down memory lane will do the trick: 

5. High-Speed Helicopter Chase – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

In the climax of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt takes control of a helicopter and goes on a high-speed chase that’s filled with sophisticated and dangerous maneuvers in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. To no one’s surprise, Tom Cruise really flew the helicopter while remaining in-character.

The shots were long takes, filmed without special effects, and Cruise was actually chasing down Henry Cavill in another helicopter (which was piloted by a professional, with Cavill still strapped in beside him).

As explained by Cruise’s stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood:

“If you let go of the instruments normally on a green screen, you’re not going to crash, nothing happens. You let go [and say] ‘sorry, cut, let me do another one.’ On this, if you let go of the instruments, you’re crashing, you’re dead.”

4. Knife to the Eye – Mission: Impossible 2

On the surface, this stunt from the second installment in the M:I franchise may seem small in scale. However, a quick peak behind the curtain will reveal otherwise. Director John Woo and Cruise wanted Cruise’s knife fight with co-star Dougray Scott to feel authentic and dangerous. Being the risk taker that he is, Cruise had Scott try as hard as he could to push a real knife into his eyeball. The knife was carefully connected to a measured cable that kept it a quarter inch from his eye, but the fact that one flinch or wrong movement could’ve instantly blinded him in one eye proves that Cruise doesn’t come to play.

3. Holding His Breath – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Everyone’s tried to hold their breath underwater and see how long they can last. The average human being can do it for around 30 seconds. Now imagine doing that 13 times as long. Yep, Tom Cruise held his breath underwater for 6-and-a-half minutes.

On an episode of The Graham Norton Show in 2016, Cruise revealed that experts were brought in to train him how to slow down his heart rate so he would require less oxygen. Cruise described the experience as unpleasant, saying:

“There’d be times I’d be sitting there in meetings and I wouldn’t breathe. I realized I am not breathing, and I had to turn my autonomic system back on to breathe again.”

2. Climbing Burj Khalifa – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

When it was revealed that Tom Cruise would actually be climbing the world’s tallest building as a stunt for his latest Mission: Impossible film, the world was dumbfounded. Why would anyone perform this stunt when it could be achieved using CGI?

Well, Tom Cruise isn’t just anyone. Word-of-mouth spread fast and the stunt paid off, making Ghost Protocol one of the most talked about films of the early 2010s. The film has even been credited for revitalizing interest in the franchise altogether.

Despite being an extremely challenging shoot, director Brad Bird and Cruise successfully completed the stunt safely with Cruise scaling, running on the side of, hanging onto, and smashing through a window of the iconic Burj. Several professional climbers, stuntmen, architects, and engineers were consulted prior to the stunt’s filming.

But that’s not enough for Tom Cruise. One early morning before filming began, Cruise asked if he could sit at the very top of the tower with no safety harness or wires for a quick picture. Because why not?

1. Hanging from the Outside of a Plane – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Climbing Burj Khalifa might just be one of the coolest things anyone has ever done, but somehow Cruise managed to top it.

For the fifth installment in the M:I franchise, Cruise strapped himself to the outside of an airbus as it took off for an unforgettable action sequence. The stunt was shot within 48 hours, with the plane taking off and landing 8 times before they captured the perfect take. According to Cruise, the plane was going so fast, that at one point a tiny pebble hit him in the rib, nearly shattering it. If something went wrong mid-scene, he couldn’t get into the plane until it landed.

His dedication towards capturing realism and authenticity to entertain audiences has gone unparalleled time and time again. Thank you for all the work that you do, Tom. Happy Birthday!

See Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick at VOX Cinemas soon and make sure to follow @VOXCinemas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more exciting updates.