“Top Gun: Maverick” star Tom Cruise recently thanked the dedicated fans who drove that film to the top of this year’s box office charts the way he knows best – with a high-flying stunt and no stunt doubles in sight.
Ahead of the film’s streaming release on Paramount+, the action star recorded himself freefalling from a helicopter over South Africa for a scene in the upcoming first part of “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning.”
Shouting over the helicopter’s noise, it sounds as if we are hearing Cruise through the copter’s headphones as he explains what he’s about to do.
“I didn’t want the year to end without thanking you all for coming out to the theater, and thank you for supporting Top Gun: Maverick,” he says as he flies over a sweeping South Africa shoreline.
But when he turns to “Dead Reckoning” writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, the longtime franchise head tells him to hurry up – they need to get the shot of Cruise falling.
“Alright, are you coming?” Cruise asks.
“Not on your life,” McQuarrie says, fist-bumping Cruise. “Good luck.”
Cruise leans out of the helicopter, holding his body parallel to the Earth’s surface far below him.
“Where was I?” he says. “Oh, yeah. … As always, thank you for allowing us to entertain you. It truly is the honor of a lifetime.
“I’m running out of altitude, so I’ve got to get back to work. We’ve gotta get this shot. You have a very safe and happy holiday. We’ll see you at the movies.”
And with that, Cruise finally lets go of the helicopter and enters his spiraling plunge, seemingly into the ocean off of South Africa.
“Top Gun: Maverick” will drop on Paramount+ on Thursday, Dec. 22. Cruise is now filming the first part of his seventh “Mission: Impossible” film, set to be released on July 14, 2023.