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How Tom Cruise saved co-star Elisabeth Shue’s life from spinning helicopter blade

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise reportedly saved co-star Elisabeth Shue from certain death back in 1987. Pic credit: ©ImageCollect.com/StarMaxWorldwide

While filming comedy-drama Cocktail in 1987, Tom Cruise saved his co-star Elisabeth Shue from certain death, according to aerial camera operator Bill Bennett ASC.

In a Facebook group called Crew Stories, Bennett recalled the moment he saw Cruise turn into a real-life superhero when he saved Shue from a moving helicopter blade.

The story was found by writer and director Mike Timm, who passed it on to Mission: Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise, who confirmed it to be true.

According to The Sun, Timm told Bennett, “I sent this post to Christopher McQuarrie, who’s working with Tom on MI. He loved the story and, of course, Tom confirmed it.”

Bennet’s post read, “We were filming the scene from a helicopter, where Tom and Elisabeth are riding horses along the beach. We were shooting film, but I had a video recorder in the helicopter to record the camera’s video tape images,”

He continued, “After a couple of takes, the pilot would land the helicopter on the beach, and Tom and Elisabeth would come over to watch the shot recordings and get notes from the director. The only monitor was at my operating position in the left front seat of the helicopter.”

Bennett explained that because the helicopter would only be on the ground for a couple of minutes, the pilot left the engine to run with the rotors still turning.

“It was also quite loud, and you had to shout to be heard over the noise of the engine,” he added.

Bennett went on, “You have to know, when you are working around helicopters, that the area at the back of the helicopter, where the tail rotor is spinning, is deadly.”

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The tail rotor would have killed the Karate Kid star instantly

“The rotor is invisible when it is spinning, and if you walk into it, it will kill you instantly. It is a totally “no go” area when working around helicopters,” explained Bennett.

After they watched playback footage of a scene, Shue “took off suddenly, running towards the back of the helicopter.”

Bennett, who was unable to rescue her due to being strapped in with a five-point harness, recalled frantically leaning out as he screamed, “Stop!”

“Just at that same moment that Tom saw where Elisabeth was going,” he added.

“Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. He lunged after her, but was only able to grab her legs, tackling her to the ground.”

“He rolled her over, dragging her at the same time, and you could see the momentary anger on her face while she was yelling “Why did you do that?”

Allegedly, Cruise then pointed toward the tail rotor while “screaming that she almost died.”

In the 1980s, ‘mandatory safety meetings were not commonly done’

Bennett recalled, “At that point, she turned white, and he pulled her back towards the front of the helicopter and they walked away.”

Bennett went on to say that because the incident happened back in 1987, “mandatory safety meetings were not commonly done.”

“If it were the current day, there would’ve been a very formal safety meeting that would take place before the helicopter ever arrived, discussing all the dangers of working around helicopters,” he added.

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Over three decades later, Cruise has continued to save lives as he also recently rescued a cameraman who slipped from a moving train while filming Mission: Impossible 7.

Charlotte is a freelance writer by trade and covers entertainment...read more

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