Tom Cruise is a maverick stuntman. He’s flown figure eights in an Air Force fighter plane in Top Gun, climbed up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and even hung from a train in Mission: Impossible 7 — and survived every broken bone he got. Injuries aside, he’s basically Mr. Invincible. But everyone was holding their breath when he sat on the wing of a flying plane while doing a stunt for Mission: Impossible 8.
During Thanksgiving weekend, Tom Cruise was photographed performing his death-defying plane stunt at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, England while filming Mission: Impossible 8, which is set to release in theaters in 2023. According to Fox News, the 59-year-old actor climbed out of the cockpit of a 1941 Boeing B75N1 Stearman biplane at 2,000 feet, sat on the wing, and dangled himself upside down from the wing. To ensure that Cruise was sitting upright, the plane flipped upside-down as Cruise hung upside-down while wearing a harness. Emily Kirkpatrick of Vanity Fair tweeted the photos shot by Geoff Robinson, commenting that the actor doesn’t know when to stop with his risky business.
It’s very easy to tell that Tom Cruise was indeed attached to the plane with a harness while performing the stunt, which involved flying the plane in a loop-de-loop in midair. He was wearing a brown bodysuit and a black headpiece to contrast against the plane’s yellow body. If you look even closer, you can see a black pole sticking out from the wing of the plane apparently either holding him in place or filming him defying gravity.
Although he flew planes in the Top Gun films, Tom Cruise has been refreshing his piloting skills by taking some extra flying lessons in preparation for filming Mission: Impossible 8, which started immediately after wrapping up production for Mission: Impossible 7. Both sequels were announced at the same time, with Mission: Impossible 7 slated for release next year. It was originally supposed to come out on July 23 of this year, but several delays and production shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Paramount to schedule the release date for September 30, 2022. Production for the seventh film was shut down several months back after Cruise yelled at crew members for not following the necessary COVID-19 protocol, per a leaked audio recording.
The last time Tom Cruise performed a plane stunt like this was in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. In this one, he stood on the wheel cover of a jet while clinging to the holes of the door as it was taking off the runway while Ethan Hunt’s spy colleagues attempt to open the door. It took a long time to open the door for Hunt to infiltrate the plane because Benji (Simon Pegg) was having a hard time understanding the Russian labels on the control panel.
During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Tom Cruise reflected on performing all of his own stunts in action movies throughout the course of his acting career. “I am a very physical actor, and I love doing them,” he said. “I study and train and take a lot of time figuring it all out. I have broken a lot of bones.” He also added that the first time he performs any stunt is nerve-wracking, but at the same time it exhilarates him — so much so that the filmmakers have told him a few times to stop smiling every time he takes on such risky stunts.