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How Elisabeth Shue Was Almost Killed While Filming With Tom Cruise

Elisabeth Shue spent a substantial part of the 1980s playing iconic love interests, thanks to the decade-spanning Hollywood casting policy now known as "if the Shue fits." There was always plenty of danger on screen, what with the Biff Tannens and Johnny Lawrences inherent in the time period, but on at least one occasion, her life was put into very real peril due to a helicopter and an overabundance of enthusiasm.

The Sun reported on the story after Bill Bennett, an uncredited aerial camera operator on the 1988 film "Cocktail," starring Shue as waitress and aspiring artist Jordan Mooney and Tom Cruise as newbie bartender Brian Flanagan, relayed it in a post in the Facebook group Crew Stories. 

"I witnessed Tom Cruise save Elisabeth Shue's life, for real," Bennett wrote. "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."

Bennett went on to explain that the helicopter would land in between takes so that everyone involved could get a look at the footage and make adjustments. For the sake of time, the helicopter's rear rotor was left spinning, which left it both functionally invisible and entirely deadly. "It is a totally 'no go' area when working around helicopters," Bennett helpfully explained.

He continued, "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."

Tom Cruise, Elisabeth Shue, and the subtle art of life-saving body slams

At this point, Tom Cruise clocked the danger and sprung into action, employing a physical restraint maneuver to be referred to henceforth as "Cruise control:" He tackled Elisabeth Shue and dropped her to the ground, saving her life in the process.

"Tom is a pilot, rated in both airplanes and helicopters, and instantly saw the danger. He lunged after her, but only was able [to] 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," Bill Bennett explained in his post. "At that point she turned white, and he pulled her back towards the front of the helicopter and they walked away."

Bennett noted that the near-death situation frazzled everyone's nerves, but they were all thankful that Cruise was there to save Shue from danger: "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."

As the Sun reported, this story made its way back to Cruise on the set of "Mission: Impossible 7," and he confirmed it was true. Thank goodness the superstar was so on the ball — the loss of his co-star would have left some big Shues to fill.