How Tom Cruise Saved ‘Karate Kid’ Star’s Life

Tom Cruise

Getty Tom Cruise walks on set of "Mission Impossible : Lybra" in 2020.

Tom Cruise has made a career out of playing heroic characters. But, it seems like not much acting may be involved, as the 58-year-old is no stranger to saving others in real life.

The Sun reported that Cruise prevented his former co-star Elisabeth Shue from dying while shooting the 1988 film “Cocktail.” Some may remember Shue from her iconic role as Ali in the movie The Karate Kid, opposite Ralph Macchio. According to the publication, a man named Bill Bennett detailed the event on “a Facebook group called Crew Stories.” Bennett, who was the “Cocktail” aerial camera operator, stated that production was “filming [a] scene from a helicopter” that involved Shue and Cruise’s characters horseback riding on a beach.

“We were shooting film, but I had a video recorder in the helicopter to record the camera’s video tap images. After a couple 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,” explained Bennett.

Bennett stated that even when the helicopter was not in the air, its “tail rotor [was] spinning,” according to The Sun. The Director of Photography noted that the “rotor is invisible when it is spinning” and if someone were to “walk into it,” they would immediately die. Unfortunately, Shue did not realize that she could potentially be in danger.


Tom Cruise Tackled Elisabeth Shue to Save Her

Elisabeth Shue

Getty Elisabeth Shue is photographed at the “Battle of the Sexes”  Los Angeles Premiere in 2017.

“So, after we had landed for the second or third time, Tom and Elisabeth came over, I opened the side door of the helicopter and they leaned in to watch the shot on the monitor,” wrote Bennett. “The director gave them a couple notes, and Elisabeth, getting quite excited, took off suddenly, running towards the back of the helicopter.”

When Bennett realized what was happening, he yelled “stop.” Thankfully, Cruise was able to rescue her before any damage could be done.

“Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. He lunged after her, but only was able grab her legs, tackling her to the ground,” recalled Bennett. The Sun reported that Bennett noted that Shue’s immediate reaction to being tackled by Cruise was to angrily yell, “Why did you do that?” Cruise reportedly responded by “screaming at her that she almost died,” which caused her to lose color in her face. The co-stars “walked away” from the terrifying incident unscathed.

Bennett said that at the time of the incident, safety meetings were not as formal as they are today and “were not commonly done.”

The Sun reported that Cruise verified Bennett’s account after it was shown to him by Christopher McQuarrie, the director of “Mission: Impossible 7.” The upcoming film, which stars Cruise, is set to be released in 2022.


Tom Cruise Wasn’t Initially Wanted for “Cocktail”


Cocktail – Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue"Cocktail" (1988) – starring: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue Music: "Oh I Love You So" by Preston Smith CREDITS: Buena Vista Pictures (1988) Director – Roger Donaldson Producer – Ted Field, Robert W. Cort Screenplay – Heywood Gould Production Company – Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Interscope Communications Music Composer – J. Peter…2019-07-18T00:02:40Z

The “Cocktail” writer, Heywood Gould, told the Chicago Tribune that Disney wasn’t happy to have Cruise play the lead in the movie. Gould said he was having a meeting with Disney execs Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg when the possibility of Cruise was nearly shot down.

Gould explained, “Someone mentioned that this might be a good vehicle for Tom Cruise … Eisner says, ‘He’ll never do this, don’t waste your time, he can’t play this part.’ And then Katzenberg says, ‘Well, he’s really interested in doing it,’ and without skipping a beat Eisner says, ‘He’s perfect for it, a perfect fit!’ That’s the movie business: I hate him, I love him; I love him, I hate him!”

Rolling Stone reported that Cruise said “Cocktail” wasn’t his best film, admitting it “was not a crowning jewel” in his career.


Heavy has reached out to both Cruise and Shue for comment on Bennett’s story.

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