Losses and Aviation Safety

The day Tom Cruise saved his co-star Elisabeth Shue from being killed by spinning helicopter blades

In 1987 Tom Cruise saved his co-star Elisabeth Shue’s life by stopping her from walking into a spinning helicopter blade on the set of comedy-drama movie Cocktail.

In 1987 Tom Cruise saved his co-star Elisabeth Shue’s life by stopping her from walking into a spinning helicopter blade on the set of comedy-drama movie Cocktail, an aerial camera operator on the set of the film, Bill Bennett, recalled last April in a Facebook group called Crew Stories, The Sun newspaper reported.

Bennett explained that the crew was shooting an aerial scene from a helicopter. They would briefly land the helicopter after each take and Cruise and Shue would approach to watch playback recordings and receive notes from the director.

Bennett said that the pilot would keep the tail rotor at the back of the helicopter running as the helicopter would only be grounded for a few moments. the back of the helicopter was a no-go area because the blades appear invisible as they spin but “if you walk into it,” he said, “it will kill you instantly.” But one time after Cruise and Shue watched playback footage of a scene, Shue “took off suddenly, running towards the back of the helicopter.”

Cruise, who in 1987 was already a fully trained chopper and jet pilot, averted the danger by rugby tackling her to the floor, avoiding certain instant death for Shue.

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

Bennett continued: “But by that time he is pointing at the tail rotor which is now a couple feet away, screaming at her that she almost died. At that point, she turned white, and he pulled her back towards the front of the helicopter and they walked away. All of us in the helicopter were quite shaken up by the close call, but there was nothing to be said. Tom had, in that instant, truly saved her life.”

In 1987 when the incident took place, “mandatory safety meetings were not commonly done,” Bennett recalled.

“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 said.

Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue in “Cocktail.”

This story was spotted by writer Mike Timm, who sent it onto “Mission Impossible” director Christopher McQuarrie who confirmed the story with Cruise, The Sun also reported.

According to Insider, this isn’t the first time reports of Cruise saving a life on a film set have been made public. In April in fact, it was reported that a cameraman who slipped from the carriage of a moving train while filming “Mission: Impossible 7” in the UK was saved by the “Top Gun” actor.

Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 action drama that sees Tom Cruise reprising his role as Pete Mitchell, is slated to hit the theaters on Nov. 19, 2021.

As already reported, Paramount Studios delayed “Top Gun: Maverick” from 2020 to this year in a dramatic shift in film release dates amid the surging coronavirus pandemic.

Top Gun 2 which Paramount had already been delayed because of the COVID-19 crisis from Jun. 24 to Dec. 23, 2020, had been delayed again from Jul. 2 to Nov. 19, 2021.

The internet was set ablaze on Dec. 16, 2019 when the latest trailer of Top Gun: Maverick debuted (the first one was released on Jul. 18, 2019).

The two-minute trailer boasts blockbuster scenes with Maverick taking to the skies in F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft and an ‘Area 51’-type jet.

Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18F Super Hornet VFA-103 Jolly Rogers, AG200 / 166620 / 2007

Photo credit: Paramount and Buena Vista Pictures

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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