A camera operator from 1988 film Cocktail has shared an incredible behind-the-scenes story that could have resulted in a freak accident, had it not been for Tom Cruise.
According to Bill Bennett, Cruise saved co-star Elisabeth Shue's life when he tackled her to the ground moments before she was about to walk into a "deadly" spinning helicopter blade.
Details of the dramatic incident 33 years ago have come to light this week after the aerial camera operator posted the story in a Facebook group called Crew Stories.
Cruise – who would have been in his mid-20s at the time – has since confirmed it to be true, according to The Sun.
Bennett, who is now a top TV and commercial cinematographer, said the crew were left "shaken up" by the "close call", explaining just how dangerous the situation was.
"I witnessed Tom Cruise save Elisabeth Shue's life, for real," he said.
"We were filming the scene from a helicopter, where Tom and Elisabeth are riding horses along the 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."
Bennett explained that given they were only intending to land for a few minutes, the pilot would let the engine continue to run with the blades still turning.
"It was also quite loud, and you had to shout to be heard over the noise of the engine," he added.
"You have to know, when you are working around helicopters, that the area at the back of the helicopter, where the tail rotor is spinning, is deadly.
"The rotor is invisible when it is spinning, and if you walk into it, it will kill you instantly. It is a totally 'no go' area when working around helicopters.
"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.
"The director gave them a couple notes, and Elisabeth, getting quite excited, took off suddenly, running towards the back of the helicopter."
Bennett explained that as he was strapped in a harness he was unable to reach out after her, but frantically leaned over and screamed "stop", which was drowned out by the helicopter noise.
"Just at that same moment that Tom saw where Elisabeth was going," he said.
"He lunged after her, but only was able grab her legs, tackling her to the ground.
"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?'
"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, we're quite shaken up by the close call, but there was nothing to be said. Tom had, in that instant, truly saved her life."
The incident occurred back in 1987, at a time when Bennett says "mandatory safety meetings were not commonly done".
"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 added.
After the post gained traction on social media, writer Mike Timm sent it onto Mission Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie – who is currently filming the seventh instalment with Cruise.
Timm told Bennett, according to The Sun: "I sent this post to Christopher McQuarrie, who's working with Tom on MI. He loved the story and, of course, Tom confirmed it."
Cruise fell in love with aviation in 1986 while filming Top Gun shortly before he started work on Cocktail. He got his pilot license in 1994.