Tom Cruise compares his death-defying antics to Gene Kelly

Top Gun Maverick
Image via Skydance Media

Tom Cruise is comparing his impressive stuntwork throughout his career to the footwork of dancer and actor Gene Kelly in an interview at the Cannes Film Festival, coinciding with the premiere of his latest effort, Top Gun: Maverick.

During a conversation with French journalist Didier Allouch in the festival’s 1,000-seat Debussy Theatre, they played a montage of some of Cruise’s most memorial moments throughout his career, from Risky Business to Jerry Maguire, The Last Samurai, Rain Man, Minority Report, and the Mission: Impossible films, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cruise has been known to perform many of his own stunts, including scaling a skyscraper, dangling from a helicopter, and clinging onto the side of an airplane in the Mission Impossible films, for instance.

“You risk your life, monsieur. Why do you do it?” asked the moderator during the conversation.

“No one asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance? Why do you do your own dancing?’” Cruise replied, in reference to the prolific tap-dancer and movie star famed for his roles in Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, and others.

We must give a tip of the hat to Cruise for being perhaps one of the most prolific “do your own stunts” actors in film history, arguably right up there with Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan. And while Cruise is a pilot in real life and even delighted fans by piloting himself in a helicopter at the movie’s world premiere in San Diego earlier this month, it’s important to note he did not actually maneuver the fighter jets seen in the upcoming sequel.

According to Daily Mail, citing producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Cruise did file a request to be allowed to fly the $70 million F-18 Super Hornet seen in the film. However, Bruckheimer said the Nacy denied clearance for Cruise, and he is actually a passenger in the cockpit in the movie, presumably because the U.S. military had concerns over how expensive the planes are to entrust someone with them who is not actually a fighter pilot. Despite that, Cruise and others have said the stars of the film went through months of rigorous training in order to handle the G-Force speeds, which are indeed real in the movie, as co-star Glen Powell’s nauseating behind-the-scenes tale illustrated.

Top Gun: Maverick comes to theaters May 27.