We are about to embark on the 7th and 8th films in the Tom Cruise-led Mission: Impossible movies. They each provide a ton of action and adventure, but one of the most memorable scenes in the franchise’s history has to be in the first film from 1996, when Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt drops down to the floor of the CIA vault, narrowly missing hitting the bottom. You can see the intensity in his face, and it just made the movie so exciting! But this iconic scene almost didn’t happen, according to Cruise himself.
In a 25th-anniversary video from Paramount Movies (via /Film) in 2021, Cruise talked about the scene, which had him really physically straining:
“I remember we were running out of time and I went down to the floor and I kept hitting my face. […] So I went up to the stunt guys and I said gimme, you know, coins. Here in England, they have pound coins. So I put the pound coins in and I hung on the cable to see, was I level? And I had to make it. [Director Brian De Palma] was like, one more, and I’m going to cut into it and do it, and I said, ‘I can do it.'”
As they shot another take, Cruise balanced himself above the vault floor with pound coins, and he continued straining and sweating for real, while Brian De Palma continued rolling the camera so long that it turned into a standoff and an endurance test for the actor:
“[I] went down to the floor and I didn’t touch, and I remember, I was there, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I didn’t touch.’ And I was holding it, holding it, holding it, holding it, and I’m sweating, and I’m sweating, and then he just keeps rolling.”
This continued until Cruise heard De Palma laugh off-camera and say, “Alright, cut.” They had finally nailed the scene, and the rest is movie history. This isn’t surprising considering Cruise’s insistence to always do his own stunts and push his physical limits. He’s an adrenaline junkie! And his persistence to make this scene happen is part of what made the movie great.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is set to hit theatres this summer on July 12th.