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Five actors who do their own stunts, after Tom Cruise sets the gold standard in Mission: Impossible 6

Superstar Cruise has long insisted on doing his own stunt work in the Mission: Impossible series; that has included scaling the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, with suction cups. Here are some others who do their own

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 1:15pm

The reviews are in, and Mission: Impossible – Fallout thrills, with many chalking up the film’s success, in part, to eye-popping stunt work by Tom Cruise.

“Whether [Cruise is] skydiving, riding a bike through the streets of Paris, fighting an assailant in a bathroom or flying a helicopter through treacherous canyons, there’s something utterly mesmerising about his quest for realism,” the Post’s reviewer wrote.

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Tom Cruise has long insisted on doing his own stunt work, which in the always exciting Mission: Impossible series has brought his stunt work to ever greater heights – literally. In 2011’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Cruise trained for months to scale the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, with suction cups – to run back down the building sideways in a later scene.

The next film in the globe-trotting series, 2015’s Mission : Impossible Rogue Nation, saw Cruise dangling from the side of an Airbus A400 plane over the English countryside.

Over the years, Cruise has suffered a number of on-set injuries and endured near-death experiences. For this sixth Mission: Impossible film the 56-year-old broke an ankle in a jump scene gone wrong. Cruise is hardly the only action star to perform most of his or her own feats of daring. We take a look at five others who took the leap and had audiences going: “Wow.”

1. Daniel Craig

Who would Ethan Hunt be, without James Bond to keep him on his toes?

Since taking on the role of Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale, Craig has performed many of the stunts in the spy films himself. The four in which he has featured have seen the British actor engage in car chases, jumping from towering cranes, and leaping onto moving trains.

“I didn’t get fit just to take my shirt off,” Craig once told The Telegraph. But the stunts have taken their toll. Over the years, the 50-year-old has undergone multiple operations – having shoulder reconstruction surgery, repairs to broken bones and to the tip of a thumb which he sliced off. Craig is signed on for another Bond film in 2019, the 25th in the series, but has promised his wife, the actress Rachael Weisz, he will go easier on his body.

2. Angelina Jolie

Jolie might be known now for hard-hitting emotional fare and humanitarian work, but the actress, who shot to fame playing Lara Croft, has done most her own stunts throughout her career. In 2007’s Wanted, we saw Jolie dangling by her feet off the front of a moving sports car while taking aim at a villain in pursuit.

In the 2010 thriller Salt, she jumped from a highway overpass onto a moving articulated truck, engaged in hand-to-hand combat and navigated precariously high building ledges, all without the use of a body double.

That film left Jolie with a permanent scar on her face, after she smashed through a door while holding a gun.

But injury did not deter the mother of six from taking on stunt work in subsequent films, including Disney’s Maleficent, which saw her suspended from tall cranes and flung into the air.

3. Jason Statham

A man virtually synonymous with high-adrenaline action, Statham performed his own stunts from the start of his career, giving him a reputation as the go-to guy when directors choose to steer clear of green screens and CGI.

Between starring roles in the Transporter series, the Crank series, and others, Statham has had more than his share of near-death experiences. Some of the 50-year-old’s skills, however, have meant the difference between life and death. While filming 2014’s Expendables 3, the action star among action stars was speeding in a truck towards the Black Sea. When its brakes failed in real life, the truck plunged into the sea with Statham in it. As if in a scene from an action movie, Statham was left with no choice but break out of the truck and swim to the surface.

4. Harrison Ford

Over a long career, audience favourite Ford has done it all, from dangling from a helicopter’s landing skid to leaping out of the way of an oncoming train. As Indiana Jones, Ford ran from boulders, crashed a car into a bus, and got dragged from the back of a moving truck.

Archaeologist Jones’ feats might not be as death-defying as those of some international superspies, but Ford gets credit for carrying on well into old age. For 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the actor took on many of his own stunts, despite being well into his 60s.

5. Jackie Chan

The Hong Kong martial arts star was awarded a Guinness record in 2012 for the most stunts performed by a living actor – a record he still holds. After taking on several acting roles as a child, Chan got his adult break as a stuntman in Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. In addition to showcasing his world-class martial arts skills in dozens of films, Chan has spent decades amazing audiences with his gymnastic agility and stunt-after-stunt endurance.

In 1983’s Project A, Chan falls nearly 20 metres from the top of a clock tower, with only two thin awnings breaking his fall and no mattress at the bottom to give him a soft landing. In 1986’s Police Story, Chan leaps onto a metal pole from the fourth floor balcony of a mall, busts through countless electrical lights, smashes through a glass ceiling, and then, without a camera cut, gets up and detains his adversary with a broken shard of glass.

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There is some controversy as to whether Chan or a stuntman snowboarded off a mountain and caught onto a helicopter’s skid in 1996’s First Strike – but is there any doubt Chan is the king of stunts?

Who did we miss? Tell us about your favourite daredevils – and the films they enlivened with their flips, kicks and tricks – in the comments.