In a behind-the-scenes featurette for “Rogue Nation,” Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie break down what went into creating the plane scene. Specifically, they talk about, well, how crazy and dangerous it all was. According to McQuarrie, right before they started shooting he thought of a direction he wanted to give Cruise. This meant McQuarrie had to get out of the plane and walk around to Cruise, who was already clinging to the side, waiting for takeoff.
McQuarrie says that when he moved behind the plane, he encounter “This absolutely stifling wave of exhaust,” adding: “You couldn’t inhale, it was so foul. And then you walk between the engines and it was freezing cold again, and then walk behind the next engine and it was hot again, and then pass through that heat barrier and there was Tom, and he’s clinging to the side of this metal plane with his bare hands.”
Cruise had hearing protection in to protect his ears from the roar of the plane. He also had special contact lenses in so he could keep his eyes open against the rushing air when the plane finally took off. But there was a slight issue. As Cruise puts it: “I couldn’t see when I had the lenses in. They protected my eyes, but it cost me my eyesight.”