Because the star of the Mission: Not possible film sequence, Tom Cruise has been pulling off not possible missions — and unbelievable stunts — for 1 / 4 century and counting. From the 1996 franchise-starter to the presently filming seventh and eight installments, the primary of which is able to hit theaters in 2022, the actor’s alter ego, super-agent Ethan Hunt, has traveled the globe and saved the world many occasions over.
However Cruise’s license to thrill nearly obtained revoked a decade in the past within the fourth installment, Mission: Not possible — Ghost Protocol. Directed by Brad Fowl and launched in theaters on Dec. 15, 2011, the film was broadly assumed on the time to be the star’s ultimate outing. In a brand new interview with Yahoo Leisure, Ghost Protocol stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz confirms that is how issues went down within the authentic script, which options an prolonged climax the place Ethan chases rogue nuclear strategist Kurt Hendricks (performed by Michael Nyqvist) round a towering carpark.
“There was a point in the script when he’s fighting Michael Nyqvist where he was supposed to get his leg broken,” Smrz remembers now. “They wanted it hyper-extended at the knee, just shredded — end of career, you know? The studio was going to write him out, and Tom did not want it. He was strapping in his harness, looked at me and said, ‘I ain’t going nowhere.’ Then he walked out on set and did his thing. We had [the leg break] all set and ready to go, and it disappeared.”
Seems that Cruise known as his shot appropriately. Removed from turning into his final Mission: Not possible film, Ghost Protocol relit the franchise’s fuse with a mighty $210 million home box-office gross and a wave of ecstatic opinions. The film additionally boasts a sequence that persistently ranks on or close to the highest of any record of the perfect Mission: Not possible stunts: Ethan’s nail-biting climb up the facet of Dubai’s world-famous Burj Khalifa, the tallest constructing on the earth.
As stunt coordinator, Smrz — who first collaborated with Cruise on Mission: Not possible 2 — oversaw that scene and agrees that it is one for the report books. “I said to Brad, ‘Do you have any idea what we’re doing?'” he recollects. “‘We’re climbing 1,700 feet in the air, 200 feet up a building. This has never been done before, and it’ll never be done again, because they’re never going to allow it.’ It’s a work of art, and I don’t think it can ever be beat as far as a climbing sequence on a building.”
And as Smrz reveals, it is a stunt that very practically did not occur. Early on in pre-production, Paramount appeared poised to cancel Ghost Protocol outright earlier than capturing began. “We had started prepping the building climb immediately on a studio lot, and were on the payroll for about before weeks when we heard that they were going to pull the plug. Tom went to have a meeting with [the studio] and we would know the outcome at the end of it.”
Thankfully, Cruise emerged from that assembly with a greenlight, and Smrz and his group restarted preparations for pulling off the Burj Khalifa climb — a sequence that was at all times designed to function the film’s spectacular centerpiece. Initially skeptical that the constructing’s proprietor would allow them to flip the two,722-foot skyscraper right into a film set, the crew recreated three flooring of the Burj on a soundstage in Prague. “We built an adjustable wall, slowly raised it until it was vertical and practiced for 200 hours on it with a crew of seven or eight guys. But Tom kept saying, ‘I really want to climb that building.'”
Finally, a compromise was reached: the manufacturing may shoot for sooner or later on the outside of the constructing, and the remainder of the sequence can be shot on one other 60-foot adjustable wall that has been constructed within the desert outdoors of Dubai. As soon as once more, although, Cruise modified the course of manufacturing with a single sentence. “The first day [on the Burj] went so well that Tom said, ‘We’re filming the whole thing here on the real building.’ We ended up doing one day of shooting over on the set, and the rest of it was on the real building.”
With Cruise main the cost, the Ghost Protocol crew labored out a cope with the constructing’s homeowners that gave them full entry to a number of flooring that weren’t but in use. Smrz and his group then knocked out roughly 17 glass panels to make room for the stunt and digicam cables and different rigging.
“I told them, ‘We won’t scratch your building; we’re not going to damage anything.’ As they saw that we were not destructive and really cared about their building, they started to work with us. There was this one guy I called Dr. No, because every time I’d ask if we could do something, he’d go, ‘No!’ at first. But towards the end, if I said, ‘Hey, we need to drill another hole,’ he’d say, ‘Just tell me where.'”
As designed by Cruise, Fowl and Smrz, the eight-minute Burj sequence has two distinct actions: Ethan’s gradual, deliberate climb up the facet of the Burj with a view to get well all-important nuclear launch codes after which his fast descent. The upwards journey features a gasp-inducing plunge the place Hunt falls from an unsteady perch outdoors his goal flooring. Cruise carried out the autumn himself, dropping roughly forty toes from a peak of 1,700 toes off the bottom.
“That was probably the most nail-biting day of the show,” Smrz says, including that they solely did a single take of Cruise’s fall. “Somebody said, ‘What if the cable breaks?’ And I said, ‘That’s not an option.’ We actually did the math, and there was enough time of free fall for him to text me on the way down, and for me to receive it!”
However Smrz additionally makes it clear that he would have overruled Cruise if he actually felt the star can be in peril. “If he wasn’t an actor, Tom could have been a stuntman, and I would put anybody in anything if I didn’t think it was safe for a stunt guy. I’ve got to be 99.9 percent sure it’s going to be successful before we do it, whether it’s a stunt person or an actor. So putting Tom into the harness was no different than a stunt guy. I expect the stunt to work, because we’ve already proven it over and over. “
Ethan’s journey down the Burj begins with him working down the facet of the constructing till he actually reaches the top of his rope. However he is the other of dwelling free: He is nonetheless one flooring above the remainder of his group — William (Jeremy Renner), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Jane (Paula Patton) — and has to make a daring leap into the void to succeed in them. To be able to achieve the required momentum, Ethan runs in the wrong way alongside the constructing after which energy jumps into the air, swinging on the cable in a large arc as he heads for the open window the place William and Jane stand.
“When Tom swung on that rope around the building, Brad wanted him to go out farther,” Smrz remembers. “I said, ‘We’d have a problem: He has to come back, and I can’t soften the impact on the glass. So the farther he goes out, the harder he’s going to hit the glass, and he’s already hitting it really hard.’ Brad came from the world of animation where anything he wanted to do was possible, but I have a reputation for trying to keep everything real. I like to see when they hit the ground, that it hurts. But Brad was great to work with, because we’d always just sit down and talk and make sure we both were happy.”
Ethan’s cable swing additionally consists of some pictures that had been filmed on the recreation of the Burj, together with the second the place he unclips in mid-air and the second the place he flies on the window, hitting his head. However the scene the place Renner clutches Cruise’s leg excessive above Dubai was filmed on location. “We had Tom suspended on the real building, and then we dropped him,” Smrz explains. “Jeremy and Paula were on cables, and they actually did dive out the window and caught Tom by his ankle. The actors did a fantastic job, especially because it was hot. We were working on glass, and it got up to 125 degrees.”
The Burj Khalifa climb wasn’t only a franchise-best stunt: It was additionally a private greatest for Cruise, one which the actor has been making an attempt to high ever since. “He wants to beat it,” says Smrz, who hasn’t labored on a Mission: Not possible film since 2015’s Rogue Nation, the place Cruise awarded him the chance to choreograph the wild bike chase of his desires. “We took it to a whole other level, but it wasn’t beating the building, you know what I mean? It was just a motorcycle chase. So they came up with that plane stunt. Tom’s going to try to step it up to the next level in every movie, but he’s also getting older: I used to tell him, ‘Tom, you’re going to end up walking like I do if you keep this up!'”
In that case, it is simply as properly that Cruise is healthier recognized for his working anyway. Requested in regards to the actor’s famously meme-friendly fleet toes, Smrz confirms he is the final particular person you wish to be in a race with. “He can run 17-and-a-half miles an hour,” he marvels. “In the scene where he’s running away from the Burj, I had my stunt guys chasing him, and he was killing them. I said, ‘Can you slow down a little?’ And he started laughing and said, ‘I’m not slowing down — tell them to speed up!’ He’s really fast and he has this odd style where he really lifts his legs high, and he’s got the arms and legs pumping. Maybe that’s his secret.”
Reflecting on the Burj Khalifa climb a decade later, Smrz feels that it is more and more uncommon for a studio to permit a film star, and a stunt crew, the time and assets obligatory to drag off a serious setpiece on that stage. “The big thing was that we really could have done that entire sequence on a stage and with visual effects. But Tom refuses to do that, because he wants climbing the Burj to be part of the thing that he does. He likes to do his own stuff, it’s great for publicity and he enjoys it. It’s always funny when somebody tells me, ‘Tom’s not going to do that — the studio’s not going to allow it.’ And I just say, ‘He’ll be doing it.'”
On the similar time, with the tragedy on the set of Rust nonetheless contemporary in everybody’s minds, Smrz acknowledges that the trade is doubtlessly going through widespread change by way of how main motion sequences are dealt with, particularly when weapons are concerned. For his half, he believes that security is at all times paramount even when it comes with a price ticket. “I’ve been told [by studios], ‘You and your guys are too expensive,'” Smrz says. “But at the end of every film, I always ask, ‘Still think I’m too expensive?’ and they go, ‘No, we got what we paid for.’ It’s so busy out there right now … and it has a lot to do with the experience of the person they hire. And right now, they’re kind of hiring anybody, so it’s a little scary.
“I do not suppose squibs and gunfire are going to go away,” Smrz continues. “It is a part of the job, and you must be additional protected and unafraid to face your floor. You must be keen to get fired if that you simply’re proper they usually wish to push on anyway. On 5 events, I’ve began to stroll off the set and by no means made it off as a result of they understand how severe you’re. You are keen to go away the film, and that is what it takes in the event that they count on us to maintain it protected. I do not suppose it could actually get any safer: I imply, if they’ll make it so problematic that they’re going to simply cease doing stuff, it will all be cartoons.”
Mission: Not possible – Ghost Protocol is presently streaming on Paramount+.