What with climbing up the façade of the Burj Khalifa and hanging off the side of a plane, Tom Cruise doesn’t make things easy for himself when it comes to making a film.
Shying away from the comfort of computer graphics and stunt doubles, the 55-year-old has no problem performing his own stunts and putting himself in danger to make each action scene that much more believable.
Going the extra mile, the Hollywood heartthrob has had to receive medical treatment for injuries on as many as 15 films, and even as recently as last month, broke his ankle filming the next instalment in the Mission: Impossible saga.
But the action star’s pluckiness doesn’t stop there, according to Doug Liman, director of Cruise’s latest film, American Made.
“People think of Tom as being fearless when he comes to his stunts, but he’s even more fearless in terms of his willingness to jump into characters that are so different than people think of him playing,” he said in a recent interview.
“Everyone in American Made is flawed. There are no heroes in this story.”
In this story, that anti-hero is Barry Seal, a real-life pilot whose job was to transport illegal goods for the CIA and South American criminals.
Speaking about his choice of actor, Liman, who worked with Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow, reflected, “I couldn’t help but think that Barry Seal’s story is the opposite of Top Gun; wouldn’t it be fun to just cast Tom Cruise?
“When I asked Tom about turning his character into a coward for Edge of Tomorrow, I didn’t know how he’d feel about that, because traditionally, especially in action movies, he plays a very heroic character,” Liman continued.
“He was so excited to play a coward in Edge of Tomorrow; he didn’t just embrace it, he went really far with it. I thought he’d be pretty fearless about jumping into Barry Seal. So I sent him the script and he loved it, and he loved the idea of it.”
Ever the action hero, Tom did his own stunts for the biographic comedy, including flying a plane and trying out a few risky manoeuvres away from set just for practice, further cementing Liman’s confidence in his choice of actor and unintentionally inspiring new scenes for the film.
While in pre-production, Cruise flew a small plane into a parabolic arc as a prank, causing Liman, the only passenger, to literally hit the roof.
But, despite a few bruises, the director was given a great idea for the film. “It hurt, but I found it funny,” Liman explained.
“From there, Tom and I were like, wouldn’t it be fun to do that in the movie? That was it.
“He did all his own flying in the film, and he doesn’t need a stunt double because he’s a great stuntman and he’s an extraordinary pilot.
“He’s really serious about it,” Liman continued. “He may have this reputation of being this daredevil because of Mission: Impossible, but I can tell you the level of training that goes into everything he does – there’s nothing daredevil at all, other than the end result, that he’s willing to do extraordinary things.”
Also starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones and Lola Kirke Rating: 15+
Running time: 115 mins