5 Questions with Stunt Coordinator Wade Eastwood
Actor Tom Cruise is famous for doing his own stunts, but some of the acclaim must be shared with the man responsible for coordinating these stunts. In the case of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, as well as Cruise’s previous film Edge of Tomorrow, this man is Wade Eastwood. In addition to the latest Mission Impossible film, Eastwood has done the stunts for such hits as Spectre, Interstellar, and Godzilla. We spoke to Eastwood about his work with Cruise on Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
Scene Creek: What was the most difficult scene in Rogue Nation to coordinate?
Wade Eastwood: Logistically the car sequence was difficult as there were so many factors that could have gone wrong. We shot this in a fairly poor and difficult location and the streets were not in good repair, very narrow and although we would safely lock down an area before driving at speed, there was always a chance that an inquisitive or irritated person could appear from a hidden doorway or give resistance at a lock up point. I had to position 50 tough stunt people as safety marshals to ensure that absolutely no-one broke our lock up’s. We had a series of abort commands and signals that everyone was rehearsed in and it all went well, but when you are driving at speeds and have Tom Cruise drifting in close proximity to building etc, you had to be prepared for anything happening. The guys all did a great job and the locals eventually embraced us being there once they saw the spectacle of what we were doing. Tom was ridiculously consistent with his drifting in such tight space with only inches to spare and never even tagged a building. The shoot went very well in the end, but not without its share of stress!
SC: What are the benefits/difficulties in working with someone like Tom Cruise who wants to do his own stunts?
WE: The difficulties are that you have to teach him to be at a world class level in so many disciplines so that he can do the stunts himself, rather than just bring in the current world champ and make him look like Tom. The benefit is that Tom does it all and the audience watching stay with his character and what he is doing rather than get taken out of it as we cut to a double doing the work. I feel that the benefit definitely out weighs the difficulty as Tom trains hard and gets it done properly and doesn’t take short cuts! He is extremely focused and has amazing ability.
SC: What is the most difficult film you’ve ever worked on and why?
WE: Mission Impossible 5! So many reasons. One being that we didn’t have a finished script when we started filming and the story changed as we went, which made the film more organic and feel real, but it also meant that the preparation and training was constant and relentless in order to be safe and ready! Without the amazing cast and crew we had, I don’t think we would have pulled it off! There were many days that we would all look at each other and think “This is Impossible!”. But we did it!
SC: Can you talk a bit about doing the opening airplane scene in the film? It’s pretty spectacular to say the least.
WE: This was a really fun sequence and it took a few visits to convince Airbus that we would look after the plane and not tarnish their great name by losing a mega star that would be hanging on to the side of it. I presented a plan of attack to them and how we would not damage their aircraft in any way and they agreed. The day the plane landed I will never forget. It was such a huge powerful aircraft and we had 48 hours to make it happen. The SFX team were really good and together we worked away and it went flawlessly. We were so lucky that the skies cleared on the shooting day and Tom jumped up and off we went! The pilot was amazing and flew a very consistent and accurate path as planned, but the steep take off was a heavy G load on the body and Tom was not ‘acting’ in the scene, he was hanging on for dear life!
SC: You’ve worked with Tom on most of the films he’s done over the past few years. What is your relationship like?
WE: We have a great relationship. There is a lot of mutual trust and respect and we are both not afraid to challenge each other as this is how great ideas are formed!
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray.