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Cruise pulled back the curtain on one of the death-defying sequences of Mission: Impossible — Fallout, his sixth outing as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. The sequence sees Cruise’s Hunt skydiving from such a height that he requires oxygen.
“It took a year to figure this sequence out,” Cruise told the Las Vegas crowd Wednesday, before screening the footage.
The scene involves Ethan Hunt and CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) as they skydive into a lightning storm above Paris. Mid-jump, they are struck by lightening and Hunt must catch Walker, who is rendered unconscious, and resuscitate him mid-air.
“I felt like I was in Top Gun,” Cavill said of filming the high-altitude jump.
To rehearse the sequence, the crew built what they say is the largest wind tunnel in the world.
“We had to decide how much we could do that is physically possible without killing Tom,” said Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie.
Cruise wanted to push the limits, and advocated for what’s called a high altitude — low opening jump, meaning a person jumps from 25,000-35,000 feet and opens their shoot as low as possible. Part of the challenge was finding a way for the audience to see Cruise’s face, so a special helmet with lights and also lifesaving devices was designed to shoot the sequence and was tested by the Royal Air Force.
“One of the requests that Tom made was that he not catch on fire,” McQuarrie said.
To film the scene, the camera operator needed to wear a camera on top of his head, and jump out of the plane backwards. Cruise said he could reach speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
The hunt for the place to shoot the sequence proved to be a challenge, but the team settled on the United Arab Emirates.
“We wouldn’t have been allowed to do this anywhere else,” Cruise said. “They were very helpful.”
Cruise said the team did 106 jumps to get three takes. Elements of each will be stitched together in postproduction to look like one continuous take, and lightning will be added in post.
Rebecca Ferguson, Angela Bassett and Alec Baldwin also star in Fallout, set to open July 27. The previous installment, 2015’s Rogue Nation, earned $682 million worldwide, while the franchise has collected more than $2.7 billion globally since launching in 1996.
“It is a daily stress going to work with him, because you don’t know if you are going to see him tomorrow,” Pegg joked of Cruise, who is known for performing his own stunts.
Cruise was also on hand at CinemaCon to receive the Pioneer of the Year award.
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