Over the past two decades, Tom Cruise has built up a reputation of a maverick in Hollywood. The actor tries increasingly dangerous stunts with each of his films, whether that's for the Mission: Impossible franchise, this year's The Mummy, or his latest cinematic venture, American Made. Unfortunately for him, those efforts have now ensnared him in a sticky situation.
After a reported hard day of production, a Piper Smith Aerostar 600 carrying three passengers had been forced to rush back to Medellin, Colombia, due to filming delays. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed in the mountains, killing two of its passengers, Alan Purwin and Carols Berl, and leaving the remaining one, Jimmy Lee Garland, without feeling on his body's lower section.
The families of the victims sued the production companies of the film, Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, and Vendian Entertainment, and the companies in turn sued the insurance company, Great American. Now, two more people have been brought into the discussion.
Tom Cruise And Doug Liman Are Being Partially Blamed For The Crash
As mentioned, the Berl and Purwin estates filed a lawsuit against the movie's three production companies back in April of 2016, but according to newly-uncovered court documents courtesy of The Blast, the family holds #TomCruise and director Doug Liman partially responsible for the accident. According to the suit, the actor-director duo's demands were too extreme, which included flying back to Medellin at a fast pace:
"The demands of filming in Colombia, together with Cruise's and director Doug Liman's enthusiasm for multiple takes of lavish flying sequences, added hours to every filming day and added days to the schedule."
The families presented two statements to support their claims. One such statement was by an executive producer who discussed Cruise and Liman's demanding methods to the film's insurance company, describing them as some of the craziest he's ever seen: "[Liman] and [Tom Cruise] [are] adding entire scenes and aerial shots on the fly. Had to bring in Uni Safety to help wrangle them. In the last 48 hours this has become the most insane s–– I've ever dealt with."
Purwin himself had emailed the unidentified producer weeks prior to the accident, opening up about his piloting duties and detailing just how difficult it was to film Cruise's famously daring action sequences:
"I'm in the most compromising position in my career. I realized I singed up for this, and I'm doing my absolute best to keep all operations involving the Aerostar and [Tom Cruise] safe and from having any type of accident or incident.
But the reality is, and many others will attest this, asking a pilot to do the flying a professional stunt pilot can do [...] and relying on a pilot that has accumulated over 500 hours over 20 + years to do, while he's multitasking as an amazing actor and while I'm pinned to the side of the aircraft so our DP can snake his camera and lens about an inch from my face which is what's going on and what [Cruise is] actually doing tremendously well, by in large, is the most dangerous project I've ever encountered.
The family goes on to argue that Cruise himself could have been piloting the aircraft at the time, given that he's an experienced pilot, familiar with the Aerostar 600.
The Situation Could Be Even More Serious
This lawsuit could also have an additional component attached to it. Back when the accident occurred, the film's insurance company, Great American was expected to cover the incident. But two years after it happened, the company decided to reconsider its position, claiming that the aircraft had either been used illegally or not used under the conditions specified by its policy.
The company went on to reveal that the aircraft may have been piloted by someone inexperienced or not properly trained. While the pilot of the plane is a mystery and a heavily debated topic right now, Great American's last statement is somewhat supported by Chris Palmer, a Hollywood safety and risk assessment consultant.
Palmer stated that the Aerostar 600 was dubbed "the Death Star" for the difficulty attached to piloting it: "Pilots often call that plane the Death Star. You had better be darn good in that craft if you're going to fly it."
Neither Cruise nor Liman have released statements about this issue, but we'll keep you updated in case any new information surfaces.
American Made is currently in theaters.