Tom Cruise reveals secrets of the 'biggest stunt' in movie history

Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise on set of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise on set of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Think it's worth starting this article off with a friendly reminder that Tom Cruise is 60 years old. An age where most people are considering retirement, Cruise continues to go further and further with hair-raising stunts, including one for the 2023 new movie Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One that is being described as the "biggest stunt in cinema history" and the most dangerous stunt of his career.

A new behind-the-scenes video offers a lot of fascinating (and insane) details about the stunt, which sees Cruise ride a motorcycle off of a cliff in Norway and then perform a base jump. We don't know the context of it in the movie, but it certainly looks to be on par with previous Tom Cruise stunts from the Mission: Impossible franchise, including the famous wire-hanging scene, him climbing the Burj Khalifa, holding on to the side of plane and performing a HALO jump.

There's a lot of incredible footage and soundbites in the video. We've got a quick rundown of some of the ones that made our jaws drop.

  • Tom Cruise wanted to drive a motorcycle off a cliff since he was a little kid apparently; this man is just wired differently.
  • The stunt team's mantra is "don't be careful, be confident."
  • Cruise did a year of base training, advanced skydive training and canopy skills (over 500 skydives).
  • Someone describes Tom Cruise as "the most aware person I've ever met."
  • They built a motocross track for Cruise to train on and he practiced more than 13,000 jumps.
  • Director Christpher McQuarrie said even two years ago the cameras didn't exist to capture the stunt like they did.
  • Tom Cruise: "Always wear my earplugs, so I don't hear myself scream."
  • There was no speedometer on the bike, so Cruise said he judged the speed by the sound and feel of the bike.
  • Miles Dashier, base jumping coach: "The only things you have to avoid while doing a stunt like this are serious injury or death." You don't say!
  • After the first take, Cruise was eager to do another one. He did the stunt six times in total.

The video was shown in front of Avatar: The Way of Water on IMAX screens, but now it is available to watch on YouTube or directly below. 

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One is set to release exclusively in movie theaters on July 14, 2023. In addition to Cruise, Mission: Impossible regulars Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson are all back, as are Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett from Fallout, and Henry Czerny from the original Mission: Impossible. New additions to the franchise include Haley Atwell, Cary Elwes, Pom Klementiff, Rob Delany, Indira Varma, Charles Parnell, Shea Whigham and Mark Gatiss.

If you want to get your Cruise fill in before the new Mission: Impossible movie, Top Gun: Maverick arrives on Paramount Plus on December 22 (he even wished everyone a thank you for supporting Top Gun: Maverick while jumping out of a plane (opens in new tab)), while the other Mission: Impossible movies are also all streaming on Paramount Plus.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).