Tom Cruise gave fans an inside look at how he and his team pulled off the “greatest stunt in cinema history” for “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.”
On Wednesday, the 60-year-old actor shared a 9½-minute featurette from the upcoming movie detailing the making of the stunt, in which Cruise rides a motorcycle off a cliff and then base jumps into a ravine.
“This is far and away the most dangerous thing we’ve ever attempted,” said Tom Cruise. “We’re going to shoot it in Norway and it will be a motorcycle jump off a cliff into a base jump.”
According to Cruise, he has wanted to engage in the risky business since a young age.
Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote and directed the film, said that Cruise, who insists on doing all his own stunt work, put everything from the plan to the stunt team together.
Stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood revealed that Cruise went through “a year of base training, advanced sky-dive training, a lot of canopy skills, a lot of tracking.”
Base jumping coach Miles Daisher described Cruise as an “amazing individual.”
Second unit director and stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood detailed the extensive preparation that Cruise and the team undertook, which included “a year of base training, advanced sky-dive training, a lot of canopy skills, a lot of tracking.”
Base jumping coach Miles Daisher marveled over Cruise, whom he described as an “amazing individual.”
“You tell him something, and he just locks it in,” Daisher added. “His sense of spatial awareness, he’s the most aware person I’ve ever met.”
“Tracking with [base jumping coach] John [DeVore] and Miles in the air,” Eastwood continued. “Doing lots of different positioning. Like they were a two-man team in the air. Coming on top of each other, below each, backtracking, front tracking. You know we’ve drilled, and drilled and drilled.”
In the clip, Cruise explained that the motocross was the next part of the training.
Eastwood recalled how the team built a motocross track in order for the actor to “get comfortable jumping 70- to 80-foot table tops.”
“I have to get so good at this that there’s just no way that I miss my marks,” Cruise added.
Cruise went on to say that he trained and drilled, performing more than 30 jumps a day, to perfect every aspect of the stunt. The video stated that he performed over 13,000 jumps in all, with Eastwood noting that he performed over 500 skydives during his training.
McQuarrie explained that another challenge involved was positioning the cameras so all the stunts were captured on film.
“Coming up with the stunt is only one of the technical challenges,” he explained. “The other is putting a camera in place that you can see where Tom is doing it.”
He added, “Finding the right lens, the right platform, the right medium. Even two years ago, the cameras didn’t exist that would allow us to do what we are trying to do today.”
“How do we involve the audience?” Cruise asked. “I just want to give them that thrill.”
McQuarrie noted that the camera has to be in front of the actor and as close to him as possible.
The production team built a ramp over a quarry in England to replicate the jump in Norway and filled the landing area with cardboard boxes to catch the motorcycle after Cruise jumped off it.
“How fast should I go off? What distance do I travel?” Cruise said.
In order to accomplish the camera work, the team built models of different ramps at different angles to calculate Cruise’s trajectory.
The actor had a GPS attached to him to track his movements, and he was surrounded by drone cameras to capture the close-ups.
“Because if we do it all, but we don’t capture it, what is the point?” Cruise posited.
“I always wear my earplugs, so I don’t have to hear myself scream,” he said as he flashed a smile.
Cruise explained that the key was hitting certain speeds and being consistent. The motorcycle didn’t have a speedometer, so the actor said he knew when to jump by the “sound and feel of the bike.”
“We have to be able to consistently predict where Tom will be in three-dimensional space,” McQuarrie noted.
The clip cut to Hellesylt, Norway, on the day of the shoot in 2020. McQuarrie said that the “Mission: Impossible” team always begins filming with the biggest stunt in the movie.
In addition to the stunt work, the filmmaker noted that the weather had to be perfect.
Cruise explained that he began warming up with base jumps to get a feel for the weather.
“Of course, when something is being done for the first time, you can’t help but worry about how it’s really going to turn out,” Daisher said. “The only things that you really have to avoid while doing a stunt like this is serious injury or death.”
The tension built as Cruise made his first attempt at riding the motorcycle off the ramp and base jumping into the rock bowl. The team clapped and cheered as he pulled it off successfully.
The video revealed that Cruise performed the stunt six times that day.
“This is far and away the most dangerous stunt we have ever attempted,” McQuarrie said. “The only thing that scares me more is what we have planned for ‘Mission 8.'”
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is set to be released in theaters on July 13, 2023.