‘Mission: Impossible’s Iconic Vault Stunt Almost Didn’t Happen
This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the first Mission: Impossible movie. Hard as it may be to believe, Tom Cruise has now been making Mission: Impossibles pretty much constantly for a quarter of a century. And he’s got two more coming in the next few years.
From the very beginning, the franchise distinguished itself with its outlandish stunts and Cruise’s intense, DIY physicality. The centerpiece of the original Mission was a break-in at CIA headquarters, where Cruise’s Ethan Hunt had to retrieve a computer file without touching the floor or raising the temperature in the room, which would set off the alarm. The shots of Cruise falling towards the floor on wires only to stop himself at the very last second became famous — but they almost didn’t happen.
In a series of interviews commemorating the Mission: Impossible 25th anniversary, Cruise describes how close they came to not getting that shot. “I remember we were running out of time,” Cruise recalls, “and I went down to the floor and I kept hitting my face. Bam! Hitting my face, and the take didn’t work. And we were running out of time.” Director Brian De Palma gave him one more take to try; after that, he’d fake the stunt with careful cutting. Finally, on that final try, he nailed it.
The 25th Anniversary Edition of Mission: Impossible is available now. Mission: Impossible 7 is scheduled to open in theaters on May 27, 2022. Here are more of Tom Cruise’s recollections of filming the original Mission: Impossible. He also reveals that when he first wanted to make a movie out of the old Mission: Impossible TV series, nobody thought it was a good idea but him. Uh, yeah, great call, guys.