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Tom Cruise actually spent 2,000 hours learning to fly a helicopter for Mission: Impossible - Fallout

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Feb 7, 2018, 11:50 AM EST

The Mission: Impossible movies are known for their breathtaking stunts and set pieces. The first one had Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hang from the ceiling above a pressure-sensitive floor at the CIA, the second contained a hair-raising motorcycle chase, the third saw Hunt swinging between buildings in China, Ghost Protocol had him climbing the Burj Khalifa (the tallest structure in the world), and Rogue Nation actually had two great ones: Hunt hanging outside of a moving plane and Hunt holding his breath in the underwater data bank.

Tom Cruise has gone above and beyond to up the action ante for each movie, choosing to do his own stunts whenever possible (even at the risk of his own well-being), and nothing's changed for the sixth entry in the franchise: Fallout. Now that the full trailer for the movie has been released, Paramount also unveiled a featurette on the making of an exciting helicopter chase.

Before it was shot, however, Tom Cruise actually took lessons to become a certified copter pilot, squeezing in 2,000 hours of practice into a very short amount of time — around three months of eight-hour days — just so he wouldn't have to do the scene with a green screen. 


"There are very few students who have [Tom's] level of dedication and focus," says Airbus Chief Instructor Tim McAdams in the video above. 

To assure the audience that it is indeed Cruise who is piloting the vehicle, the filmmakers created special rigs that secured inward-looking cameras to the helicopter. This was unconventional as these types of movie chases often only contain external shots, which hide the fact that the vehicle is being operated by a professional pilot and not an actor who will do the internal shots later in the safety of a studio. 

"It's super important for a movie like Mission to be doing it all practically and for real," says stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood. "The audience can tell when something's being cheated." 

Mission: Impossible - Fallout takes the highway straight to the (in the words of Kenny Loggins and Sterling Archer) Danger Zone on July 27.