The Mission: Impossible franchise has become synonymous with Tom Cruise's hair-raising, death-defying stunts all shot without the help of CGI or green screens. The first, and possibly most iconic of those stunts occurred in the very first Mission: Impossible film, where Ethan Hunt, played by Cruise, must suspend himself from a wire and swing down into a heavily protected room while avoiding landing on the pressure-sensitive floor. During an interview celebrating the 25th anniversary of the movie, Cruise revealed how tricky the scene was to pull off, causing the actor to get hit in the face more than once.
"When you look at that shot, I'm going from the computer to the floor and I remember we were running out of time and I went down to the floor, and I kept hitting my face and the take didn't work. And we were running out of time - we had a lot we had to do. So I went up to the stunt guys and I said, "Give me coins." You know, here in England they have pound coins, so I put the pound coins in and I hung on the cables to see was I level. And I had to make it, you know, and so I said okay I said, [director] Brian [De Palma] was like, "One more and I'm gonna cut into it and do it," and I said, "I can do it," you know. It was also very physical, like straining, I'm doing it."
While today it is considered a given that Cruise would perform all his own stunts for a Mission: Impossible movie, no matter how long or complicated the process, back then, it was considered highly unusual for a lead actor to go to such lengths for an action scene instead of relying on a stunt double or editing tricks. According to Cruise, it was that final take of the wire hanging scene that finally made it into what we see in the movie.
"So I went down, starting at the computer, went all the way down - beautiful set, like De Palma is, has got amazing taste - went down on 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. I just realize, Brian is like, he's doing it, he is like, he is working it. It's like we did it, we did it, we did it, I'm like, I am not going to stop. And I just hear him off camera and I could - he's got a very distinct laugh - and a very, you know, when he laughs it makes me laugh and he just, I could just hear him start to howl and he goes "Alright...cut."
The scene finally worked, and so did the whole of Mission: Impossible, kickstarting one of the most lucrative Hollywood franchises of all time, with the seventh installment in the series set to arrive in theaters next year. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible 7 stars Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Henry Czerny, Esai Morales, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, and Shea Whigham. The film arrives in theaters on May 27, 2022