Over the course of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise has scaled cliffs and skyscrapers, clung to the sides of airplanes and raced marathon-length routes through some of the world’s great cities. Heading into the sixth installment of the series, Mission: Impossible — Fallout, the star’s mission — which he chose to accept — was leaping out of a plane and plunging to earth in a death-defying HALO (high-altitude, low-opening) leap. In this exclusive commentary clip from the upcoming Fallout home release, Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie share the story behind that jump, which took a full year to plan and execute. (Watch the clip above.)
One of the reasons why the stunt required 365 days of preparation time is that Cruise and McQuarrie wanted to accomplish as much of it as possible in a single shot. “First of all, you have to have [a cameraman] that knows how to skydive,” the actor points out. Enter Craig O’Brien, a skydiver and camera operator who had filmed numerous jumps but never in the context of a narrative feature. O’Brien strapped a camera to the top of his helmet and jumped out of the plane backward in order to capture Cruise in midair. “I’m coming right at him,” Cruise says. “From there, I have to get to within 3 feet; not 2 feet and 10 inches. … I have to be right at 3 feet to be in focus.”
That kind of precision required Cruise to perform his HALO jump more than 100 times. It also was the reason he specifically asked his co-star Henry Cavill to stand down from performing his own leap. “I asked Tom … and he said, ‘I know how you feel. I appreciate it, but you can’t do this.'” Cavill told Yahoo Entertainment earlier this year. “‘I’ve trained for hundreds of hours to do this jump. You’ve had wind tunnel training, and yeah, you’re good in the wind tunnel, but you will probably end up killing all of us.”
Frankly, given all the death-defying stunts he’s survived already, killing Tom Cruise sounds like a real Mission: Impossible.
Watch: Cavill explains why he couldn’t join Cruise on the HALO jump:
Mission: Impossible — Fallout lands on digital on Nov. 20 and Blu-ray on Dec. 4.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: