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Published On: Wed, Jan 4th, 2017

‘The Mummy’ plane crash details emerge, Tom Cruise blamed for ‘vomit comet’ filming

From the trailer for The Mummy, a crazy plane crash sets off a cascade of events surrounding star Tom Cruise and director Alex Kurtzman says Cruise is the one who wanted the scene shot in the in the “vomit comet.”

“Our goal was to do as much practically as we could, and we really committed to that,” Kurtzman told Collider in an interview before getting into the plane crash discussion.

“So there’s a plane crash sequence and traditionally when you do a plane crash sequence inside of a plane, what the studio will tell you is, ‘Okay, fine, you’re going a rotisserie set and you’re going to do a lot of green screen work on the set and we’re going to do cables and blah-blah-blah,’ right? Now to some extent, if you want it to be a visceral experience and you want to go there, you do need to build, at the very least, a rotisserie, which essentially is a massive set that rotates so you can have the visual experience of it, so you and the camera can move through that space steadily enough to capture all the actors tumbling all over the place. It’s the kind of thing that [Christopher] Nolan did in Inception, [Stanley] Kubrick pioneered it in 2001. It is kind of the most immersive way to go.”

Kurtzman quickly explains that he wasn’t the only person who wanted to focus on practical effects.

“That being said, when I brought this up with Tom [Cruise], I said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to build the set,’ he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, but we’ve got to do it for real.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘We’re going to up in the vomit comet and we’re going to shoot the whole sequence there too.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but we can’t do it ALL in the vomit comet because the sequence is so extensive.’ He said, “I know, we’re going to build that rotisserie set, we’re going to do part of it there and we’re going to do part of it in the vomit comet.'”

Of course Kurtzman explained the process for those not getting the reference.

Tom Cruise and AnnaBelle Wallis on set of “The Mummy” photo published by Coming Soon

“Do you know how it works, the vomit comet? So you go up, basically with the Gs of a rocket going into space. Then you even out and everything starts to go weightless, and then you free-fall for 22 seconds and everybody goes up in the air. We had grips holding lights and puking while the shot was going on. I mean, it was the craziest experience ever and ultimately worth it because I think, again, our whole thing was ‘Let’s do this without cuts. Let’s really do this so that you can actually stay in this shot and watch these guys float around and go, ‘How the hell did they do it?’…So that is what we did. Everything in that plane is totally practical and, traditionally, a lot of that would have been people on wires against a green screen. And the funny part is, if you were to cost both at the end of the day, it actually is probably the same. So for what we wanted to do, which is put you guys in this totally immersive environment and make you feel like you were there, it’s those kinds of decisions that make a huge difference – huge, huge difference – just the experience of a moment like that.

“Here’s the thing, you have to take a bag with you and you have to hold it right here, and the hope is that when you do vomit you manage to grab all of it in the bag before the chunks float off into space.Sounds totally safe and easy on the cast and crew, right?”

 The Mummy sequence was filmed over “four flights, sixteen [parabolic arcs] each flight” with the intent to take Cruise out of his expected heroic performance.

“When we were developing the script and I knew that Tom was going to do the movie, the first thing that we talked about was, I said, ‘Listen…’ I’d worked with Tom on Mission [Impossible] III, and I said, ‘I have 30-plus years of embedded ‘Tom Cruise is going to save the day’ in my experience and my relationship to you, as an actor. And the problem is in a monster movie, the scariest monster movies are the ones where the protagonist starts to feel very out of control. So how am I going to believe that you’re really out of control, because I know you’re going to save the day, you know?'”

Of course, Kurtzman explains the spoiler-esque scene in the trailer of Cruise’s character’s fate.

“And what we came to is the idea that if you present him as somebody who thinks he knows what’s going on and then you throw the craziest thing at him in the world, which is, ‘Oh s**t, he dies and then comes back up in that morgue,’ now I go, ‘Okay, he doesn’t know what he’s into, I don’t know what he’s into, I don’t know that he’s going to save the day.’ And everything became very unpredictable at that point. So in terms of what I want the conversation to be about there, it’s interesting you said “Oh my god, I’ve never heard Tom scream in fear before.” That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. He’s never been in that position before.”

Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond plays the titular creature. The cast also includes Annabelle Wallis (upcoming King Arthur, television’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson), Chasty Ballesteros and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).

Check out the whole Collider interview HERE

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