If you know anything about the industry, it’s that stars – generally referred to as the big names that headline movie posters – are barred from doing dangerous stuff. Some of them do end up doing stunts (driving a car also fits the bill, if it’s at relatively high speed), but only with approval from the movie’s insurance company and the producers.
To put it simply, if anything goes wrong during a stunt and the main star is hurt, production can be derailed for months at a time. If the star dies or is badly injured, everyone’s out of a job. Meanwhile, stuntmen and stuntwomen, though severely underpaid, have the advantage of being easily replaceable.
Throughout his career, Cruise has met with plenty of resistance from studio bosses and movie producers, regarding his desire to do his own stunts. In his interviews on the topic, he says it’s not about ego or about wanting to cut out the middle man – the stuntman, in this example – but about wanting to deliver the most believable experience possible. In his mind, viewers will see through the BS if he’s not driving his own car, riding his own bike during chases, or jumping out of airplanes.
This is a man who’s pushing 60 who is still able to drive cars, ride bikes and jump out of planes for the sake of his art, and for that alone, his efforts are commendable. There are many actors truly dedicated to their craft, but Cruise seems bent to put his life on the line for it, as well.
Of course, there is another side to Cruise’s obsession of doing his own stunts and you’re probably familiar with it if you’re well-versed in celebrity trivia. There is no denying his dedication to the art of moviemaking but, if he were to stop talking about his stunt work, what would there be left? Since the 2005-era (think the time he jumped on Oprah’s couch to announce his engagement to Katie Holmes), Cruise has not done a single personal interview.
Tom Cruise is a machine that’s able to do the most physically challenging stuff for the big screen, and which never stops grinding – because the alternative would be too costly for him. Because of this, he’s been able to remain a top leading man for action movies, while earning respect from both the industry and the fans.
So yes, if you see a Tom Cruise movie, expect him to drive and ride anything with wheels, or even to jump out of everything that’s airborne. He will still flash that trademark smile and possibly romance a damsel or two, but his number one appeal these days is that of a man who can – and will – do as many stunts as physically possible. In the end, for a moviegoer, it should suffice to suspend disbelief.