Tom Cruise saved co-star Elisabeth Shue’s life by tackling her moments before she walked into spinning helicopter blade

TOM Cruise turned real life superhero by saving his co-star's life when he tackled her to the ground moments before she was about to walk into a "deadly" spinning helicopter blade.

In a scene more in keeping with his fighter pilot film Top Gun, the Hollywood actor allowed Elisabeth Shue to cheat death on the set of comedy-drama movie Cocktail by rushing to her rescue.

The actress was unaware of the protocol when getting out of a helicopter, as the rotor blades still furiously turn even after the pilot has turned off the engine.

But Tom – who even in 1987 was a fully trained chopper and jet pilot – averted the danger by rugby tackling her to the floor, avoiding certain instant death for Elisabeth.

Details of the dramatic incident – which happened 34 years ago when safety procedures weren’t as stringent – have only now come to light after the aerial camera operator on the set of the film, Bill Bennett ASC, revealed the story in a Facebook group called Crew Stories.

Remarkably, Tom got wind of Bill posting the tale online and confirmed it to be true.

The post was seen by writer Mike Timm, who sent it onto Mission Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie – who is currently filming the seventh installment with Tom.

Mike told Bill: "I sent this post to Christopher McQuarrie, who’s working with Tom on MI. He loved the story and, of course, Tom confirmed it."

Bill, now a top TV and commercial cinematographer, said the crew of the film Cocktail – which hit cinema screens in 1988 – were left "shaken up" by the "close call".

"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."

Bill explained that because they would only be on the ground for a couple of minutes, the pilot would let the engine continue to run with the rotors 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."

Bill said he was strapped in with a five point harness and so was unable to rush to her rescue, but frantically leaned out and screamed "stop".

"Just at that same moment that Tom saw where Elisabeth was going," he added.

"Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. 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 shocking incident happened back in 1987, at a time when Bill 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.

And even more than three decades on, Tom continues to show his mettle by performing his own terrifying stunts on the set of Mission Impossible.

He and co-star Hayley Atwell were seen dashing along the roof of a moving train in a daring scene for the new movie being filmed in North Yorkshire.

Dressed in black, Tom, 58, was pictured running over a bed of coals for his return to the role of Ethan Hunt, an agent of the Impossible Missions Force, in the Christopher McQuarrie directed flick.

Hayley, who is 20 years his junior, also appeared more than capable as she grappled with the shaky train – having already had some action experience from her time as Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Sun revealed in December that the thrill-seeking pair had been secretly dating after being spotted holding hands at a London screening.

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