Tom Cruise is one of the world’s most beloved movie stars. And not just because he’s both handsome and charming.
No, audiences love Cruise because the man is dedicated to doing his own stunts. Despite his immense wealth and fame, Cruise is one of the few celebs willing to die for his craft.
Obviously, Cruise hasn’t died doing any of these stunts, but he’s come pretty damn close. Don’t believe it? Here are the wildest times Cruise nearly died filming his movies!
Breaking an ankle for ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’
Compared to some of his other stunts, jumping from building to building in Mission Impossible: Fallout seems like just another day for Tom Cruise. Nonetheless, one of these scary leaps led to the actor breaking his ankle while chasing Henry Cavill across rooftops.
Cruise immediately knew the ankle was broken and sought medical help. He then threw himself into physical rehabilitation just as intensely as he throws himself into his stunts. The end result was that he was running full speed again and filming only three months after the accident.
Crashing a motorcycle for ‘Oblivion’
As anyone who recently watched Top Gun: Maverick knows, Cruise is fond of driving motorcycles on camera. And he still insisted on driving the bike himself in the movie Oblivion despite the fact that he’d have to drive over some really rocky terrain.
A video showing Cruise training for the movie eventually leaked online. In it, we see Cruise try and fail to perform a jump, ultimately crashing his motorcycle. The spry actor jumped right back up, but he could have gotten seriously injured or even killed in the nasty motorcycle crash.
From ‘Fallout’ to fatal?
In Mission Impossible: Fallout, Cruise took his stunts to the next level. In one particularly harrowing scene, he falls from a helicopter and then grabs onto the net of the chopper’s cargo to pull himself up.
Any one of those falls could have killed Cruise, and he ended up shooting the scene five times until it was “just right.” And the other cast and crew knew how dangerous it was, with many of them thinking Cruise had died the first time he fell. Even those who didn’t think he was dead thought the actor had broken his back, but Cruise survived the stunt without a scratch.
Almost becoming a ghost for ‘Ghost Protocol’
As good as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was, it is mostly remembered for a single scene. And that scene was the one where Tom Cruise climbs Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, better known as the tallest skyscraper in the world.
Onscreen, Cruise’s character must climb the building using a single suction cup. In reality, Cruise was suspended by a razor-thin wire. Winds constantly buffeted the actor into the building, and the scene took eight days to film. Even Tom Cruise himself was worried he was going to die up there.
Hanging from a plane in ‘Rogue Nation’
In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, one scene required Ethan Hunt to hang onto an A400 airbus while it was in the air. In typical fashion, Cruise demanded to do the stunt himself, clutching the exterior of the plane as it took off, landed, and flew as high as 5,000 feet in the air.
What nearly killed Cruise, though, was not gravity but a tiny stone. A tiny rock hit the actor while he was outside the plane and moving at high speed. Cruise was convinced the rock had broken his ribs. While it had not done so (the actor’s vest helped protect him), it’s easy to imagine this could have been fatal if something (especially something larger) hit Cruise in his unprotected hands or face.
‘Top Gun’ turbulence
Sometimes, even Cruise’s safer onscreen scenes nearly get him killed. That was the case with the original Top Gun in the scene where Maverick holds onto the deceased body of his partner Goose as they float in the ocean depths.
During the scene, Cruise had an actual deployed parachute on. It began to fill with water, which meant Cruise was in danger of sinking to the ocean depths. And that’s what would have happened if a helpful frogman hadn’t noticed what was happening and quickly cut Cruise loose!
Nearly decapitated for ‘The Last Samurai’
What if Tom Cruise’s career had ended back in 2003? Thanks to a stunt gone wrong on the set of The Last Samurai, that’s almost exactly what happened!
The movie involved Cruise’s character fighting other actors on horseback. For safety purposes, they sometimes used mechanical horses instead of real ones. However, at one point, the horse belonging to martial arts actor (and Cruise’s onscreen opponent) Hiroyuki Sanada malfunctioned. This caused Sanada to nearly decapitate Cruise, with the blade ending one inch from his neck.
It’s a good thing Cruise survived. After all, there can only be one.
Daze of thunder
These days, Tom Cruise is very good at taking directions to keep him alive during his dangerous stunts. When filming the 1990 racing hit Days of Thunder, though, Cruise seemingly ignored the instruction to not turn his car to the right while driving at high speeds.
He spun out and hit the wall, surviving the incident but taking out a very expensive camera. In some ways, karma followed Cruise and his cars: in later movies, costars such as Emily Blunt and Jaimie Foxx have worried that they had gotten Cruise killed while doing their own dangerous driving stunts with him as a passenger.
‘Mission Impossible’ and the wall of water
The Mission Impossible franchise is known for its epic setpieces. In Cruise’s first outing as Ethan Hunt, the most ambitious stunt involved his character detonating some explosive gum and unleashing thousands of gallons of water.
If that scene looked realistic, it’s because they really did unleash thousands of gallons of water, and Cruise really did have to outrun all of it. He ended up getting a bruised ankle, but only after he saw that a stunt guy had a chunk of glass stuck in his leg did he realize how much worse it could have been.