Why A Stunt Coordinator In Hollywood Says We Aren’t Giving Tom Cruise Enough Credit For His ‘Unbelievable Skill’

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Written By Maya Cantina

To say that Tom Cruise is a great stuntman feels like an understatement. The actor has participated in some of the most death-defying feats ever put to film, and has done so with a coolness and a swagger that is beyond impressive. Apparently, at least one of his colleagues agrees, as a Mission: Impossible stunt coordinator recently opened up about the actor’s prowess as a stuntman, giving him plenty of credit for his “unbelievable skill.”

Wade Eastwood spoke with the Motion Picture Association about working on Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One with Tom Cruise, and what impressed him most about the actor. While the flashy stunts performed are certainly unbelievable, Eastwood explained that the stunt itself isn’t the only skillful part about the leading man’s work. While most stuntmen are only focused on the actual feat, Cruise has another key concern that he has to contend with while risking his life. Eastwood explained:

I’m drifting a car or flying a helicopter, I’m doing it. But when Tom does it, he has to do it as Ethan while watching out for bogeys or what might go wrong. So, he can’t necessarily look where I would because he’s also got to find the lens and the light, playing to different emotions than what he might be feeling while drifting a car through a narrow street, hitting a wall, or bouncing off a car. To do it at that level requires unbelievable skill.

That’s a fair point. So, for instance, when when Tom Cruise was strapped to a plane in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he didn’t just have to focus on performing the stunt as safely and cinematically as possible. He also had to think about his character, know his lines and convey the right emotions. That’s a lot of brainwork to be going on while doing something so life-threatening, and the way Cruise is able to deliver time and time again speaks volumes to his strength as an actor.

Wade Eastwood himself has worked on a lot of stunt-heavy films like Spectre and Men in Black: International. However, the Ethan Hunt portrayer still stands out amongst the rest, which is one of the many reasons audiences keep coming back again and again for the Mission films. 

Hopefully, since he’s portrayed Hunt so much over the years, it’s gotten easier for Tom Cruise to be in character during dynamic stunt sequences. The Top Gun actor has been playing the role for almost 30 years, so he probably knows the character inside out. Hopefully, Cruise is also able to channel his real life emotions and reactions into Hunt while performing his stunts. When he rides a motorcycle off of a cliff in M:I 7, Ethan is pretty nervous, which I can imagine may have also been the case for the Oscar-nominated actor.

However, many of his co-stars have revealed that the action star is often dead calm while performing stunt sequences, which also speaks volumes to his diligence and focus. Many of the big moments are incredibly technical, and a misstep could lead to disaster. So having a detail-oriented and calm mindset is likely essential to pulling those scenes off safely. I’d surely panic if I had to run up and down the world’s tallest building, but the Risky Business icon’s ability to lock himself in mentally is what makes him the best. 

Tom Cruise will be performing even more “outrageous” stunts in MI: 8, which is now in production and is expected to hit theaters in 2025. In the meantime, you can see the Jerry Maguire actor in the franchise’s latest installment, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which is currently available to rent on Amazon. You can also check out Cruise in previous Mission films, most of which are now streaming for Paramount+ subscribers. 

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