Returning to the scene of the ‘crime’ was the mission for the Hollywood cast and crew of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”, who are in the emirate with leading man Tom Cruise for the film’s world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Chatting with the international media as an industry veteran, Cruise recollected his first trip fly-by to the city last year, which saw him literally leap into the yonder at the dizzying heights of Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.
“Fear of falling was the first thought that went through my head when I lunged out of that building,” recalled Cruise, whilst hanging nearly 100 floors off the ground, adding: “I just really, really hoped I wouldn’t fall.”
For those who have glimpsed the film’s trailers, or like some of us been lucky to see “MI4” in its entirety, will understand Cruise’s predicament when director Brad Bird’s vision of the fourth film in the franchise saw its leading man hang outside Burj Khalifa, swinging in a harness to from one end of the building to another.
“I trained for months on a four-storey structure before I could even attempt this stunt here,” he stated. “And when we did finally have our first take here, it saw me wearing a helmet and pads until I managed to get a feel for it.”
Cruise admitted that getting the ‘feel’ involved running along the vertical façade of this mammoth glass structure for a hour-long stretched just to get comfortable.
Meanwhile, a team would measure the outside building temperature daily to ensure Cruise’s comfort was taken into account.
“I literally had to figure a way to fly,” laughed Cruise. “Because even with months of training, I didn’t take into account the crosswinds at such an altitude and I had to keep using my legs as rudders to keep myself from slipping.”
With the actor’s real-life adventure spirit that includes hiking, mountaineering, riding motorcycles and flying planes, Cruise’s technical explanation almost makes it sound like an average day on a film set where one requires on of Hollywood’s biggest stars to hang atop the world’s biggest manmade structure.
But ask director Bird and he has a different take on things.
“I was scared I would go down in Hollywood as the man who killed his leading man,” he laughed.
Adding his own memories to the proceedings, Bird added: “I remember on the first day of the shoot, Tom was hanging out there getting the hang of things and I was sorting things out inside and completely forgot that he was out there, 100 floors up in the air.
“Suddenly, we saw a body flying into the air, disappearing outside our line of sight and a large bang; and I thought to myself, I killed Tom Cruise.”
The actor, however, laughed and said his safety was never a cause of concern.
“We had a good team going for us and I always knew I was in safe hands,” was the 49-year-old actor’s response.
However, Bird revealed that it wasn’t exactly the same thought process that went through the minds of Cruise’s wife, Katie Holmes and daughter Suri.
“They literally saw two takes of Tom lunging out of Burj Khalifa and they went, ‘right, we can’t see this; we are going shopping instead’,” he said.
When quizzed what his insurance company had to say about the death-defying stunt, Cruise simply said: “Our stunt person’s first safety briefing lasting five hours and the insurance company insisted that anyone hanging outside a window had to have on a parachute at all times; we got a new safety officer.”
The actor also wouldn’t stop gushing about the hospitality that had been shown to him and his cast and crew during their brief stay in Dubai.
“I would like to thank Sheikh Mohammed for the hospitality that has been extended to us here,” said Cruise. “I have literally seen Dubai grow into this miraculous city that risen from the desert in a few short years.
“A few years ago, my plane had stopped over her for refuelling, and even the sights I saw then literally blew me away.”
Few know that during Cruise’s shoot in Dubai last year, the actor and his Hollywood castmates of Simon Pegg and Paula Patton all ventured off to Ski Dubai on the first day, along with visiting a water park (we suspect Atlantis The Palm) and cap that evening off with a party thrown by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
“There are so many memories I have of this beautiful city, such as our last evening here, riding into the desert, atop a camel and watching the sunset. These are moments I will take back with me,” he stated.
Ask Cruise if he would recommend Dubai as the next destination for Hollywood films, and the actor doesn’t deny it.
“The stories in Hollywood about Dubai are phenomenal and I could see many future films being shot here; as for me, I would most certainly return when given the chance.”
Cruise, Patton, Pegg, Bird, and Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, will all walk the red carpet at Madinat Jumeriah later this evening, from 5.30pm until 7.30pm.
“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” goes on general release across the UAE on December 15.