A riddle: What comes first, the Tom Cruise movie, or the Tom Cruise stunt?
In a statement that is both a little bit strange and quintessentially Tom Cruise, the 60-year-old actor opens up a behind-the-scenes video for Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One by saying he’s wanted to do what they’re about to show off “since I was a little kid.” Namely, the film’s biggest, most dangerous stunt — a motorcycle jump off a Norwegian cliff, which then launches into a BASE jump.
After blinking however many times it takes to process tiny Tommy Cruise imagining death-defying leaps for fun, the impressive scope of the stunt sinks in as Cruise, Dead Reckoning writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, and their elaborate stunt team detail the intense amount of prep work that the stunt entails. “Prep work” in this context requires a truly surprising number of skydives on Cruise’s part — including a few jumps he does “just to warm up” when it’s finally time to film the big stunt.
As the consummate movie star, Tom Cruise approaches film promotion with clinical efficiency, flashing his megawatt smile and talking about how great it is to entertain us, the viewers, because movies are just The Best. He’s about as good at this as he is at not talking about Scientology (which is to say: extremely) but 21st Century Tom is also a reserved Tom, here to do a job and do it well.
Not so here: Tom Cruise is having so much fun prepping for this stunt, appearing as if this is the thing he truly wants to do with his career: not make movies, but dream up deranged stunts, and then wield his considerable power and influence in Hollywood to let him spend a couple months doing said stunts. In exchange, he’ll give the money people a movie, I guess. (His director gets to have mild panic attacks every time he jumps out of an airplane.)
Jumping out of airplanes is so completely Tom Cruise’s love language that it’s how he chose to thank fans for their support of Top Gun: Maverick, casually exiting an aircraft thousands of feet above South Africa while giddily addressing the camera about how entertaining us all is “the honor of a lifetime.”
If there is a god, Tom Cruise is gonna piss them off one day.