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My big break: Tom Cruise on the snapped ankle that halted 'M:I6'
[LAS VEGAS] If the infamous "hobbling" scene in Rob Reiner's "Misery" made you hide behind the sofa, then prepare to wince hard at "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" - as Tom Cruise shatters his ankle for real.
The injury has threatened or ended the careers of sports legends like Diego Maradona, Yao Ming and Derek Jeter, but 55-year-old Cruise calmly finished the take and was back on set within six weeks.
"I've broken bones before in my life, but it was hard," the "Top Gun" icon, perhaps the most recognisable movie star in the world over the last four decades, told AFP.
"It was very difficult, because they were concerned I wasn't going to be able to run for nine months at least and I'm in the middle. I've got a release date and responsibilities - I didn't want to stop filming."
AFP caught up with Cruise at the annual CinemaCon industry gathering in Las Vegas, where he was promoting the sixth film in the lucrative spy franchise ahead of its July 27 release.
"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" was forced to halt production in London last year after Cruise slammed awkwardly into a concrete wall as he leapt between buildings while attached to cables.
"I knew instantly my ankle was broken and I really didn't want to do it again so just got up and carried on with the take," he said after the incident.
Director Chris McQuarrie - who was also at the helm for Cruise's "Mission: Impossible 5" (2015) and "Jack Reacher" (2012) - said he would "move heaven and earth" to ensure that fateful fourth take got into the movie.
Cruise's most difficult days were ahead of him, though, as he had to spend hours every day in rehab and climb a mountain in Norway when he returned to filming.
"When you see the sprinting in the movie, I'm basically doing it on a broken foot. But I was able to get to a physical point where it wasn't causing any more damage by doing that," Cruise told AFP.
A veteran of more than 50 movies, the star is admired for his adventurous attitude to filmmaking, which over the years has involved some hair-raising moments on set.
It all started comparatively sedately as Cruise announced himself to Hollywood with a minor role in the 1981 romantic drama "Endless Love". It was a memorable scene in 1983's "Risky Business", where he cavorts in a white shirt and his underwear while lip-syncing to "Old Time Rock and Roll", that confirmed him as one of the film industry's brightest talents.
Legendary producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson cast Cruise in 1985's smash-hit "Top Gun" as the fighter pilot Maverick, a role that catapulted him into the ranks of Tinseltown's elite.
In the 33 years since, he has established himself as one of the most powerful and bankable players in Hollywood, his movies grossing US$9.3 billion and his talents earning three Oscar nominations.
His box office successes have included conventional action movies but also edgier roles, such as Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July", Barry Levinson's "Rain Man" and Michael Mann's "Collateral".
Born in New York on July 3, 1962, the actor had an unsettled childhood after his father left home when he was 11 and refused to pay child support. Cruise is reported to have attended 15 schools in 12 years.
His onscreen success has been matched by an ability to create controversial headlines off it, mostly through his vocal support for the secretive Church of Scientology.
Cruise has also been forced to endure persistent innuendo about his sexuality and has sued over claims he is gay or that his second and third marriages to Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes were a sham.
"Almost 40 years. Forty years. For-ty," Cruise mused backstage at CinemaCon about his longevity in the business as AFP asked how he would rank the "Mission: Impossible" franchise among his career accomplishments.
"It's been a massive part of my life. It was the first film I ever produced. I love playing this character, something that you kind of dream that hopefully an audience would still want," he added.
For the coming months, Cruise turns his attention to a sequel of the warmly received 2014 sci-fi movie "Edge of Tomorrow" and the project most of his fans are buzzing about - long-awaited sequel "Top Gun: Maverick."
Director Joseph Kosinski is expected to begin production this summer, ahead of a 2019 release, although the return to perhaps Cruise's most iconic role is shrouded in secrecy.
"We'll see if it goes through. We'll see if it happens," Cruise teased, flashing his trademark mile-wide grin.
"I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you."