There is no questioning Matt Damon's bona fides as an action star. After all, the guy plays the titular role in one of the best action trilogies of the 21st century. He's a performer who is willing to do a lot for a role... but he also has his limits, and one of them came clear to him when he had a conversation with Tom Cruise about his work on the blockbuster Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.
Damon is featured as a guest in the fifth episode of the Max series Smartless: On The Road, and there is a point late in the chat with hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes where he talks about his work on the Bourne movies. Discussing how much he is willing to sacrifice for an action role, he begins talking about sharing a meal with Tom Cruise and the talk they had about the spectacular Burj Khalifa stunt. Said Damon,
There are the Tom Cruises of the world, who do their stunts, like literally hang off a plane and do that. I remember I had dinner with him once, and it was after he did the [Mission: Impossible movie] where he ran around the building. And I go, ‘Can you tell me how that happened?’ And he’s a really intense guy, and he was like, ‘I’ll tell you how it happened!’ I go, ‘Alright.’ And I’m in.
Tom Cruise began by telling Matt Damon that the Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa climb was something that he had been thinking about for a decade-and-a-half, and when he met with some resistance, he simply got rid of the resistance. Damon continued,
He goes, ‘I’ve been thinking about this shot for 15 years!’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, really?’ He goes, ‘So I go to the safety guy, and I lay it all out.’ Safety guy goes, ‘We can’t do that. It’s too dangerous, you can’t do that. So I get a new safety guy.’ That’s the beginning of his story.
When a film production hires a so-called "Safety Guy," their job is to essentially set up boundaries to determine what's ok for an actor to do and what should be done by a stunt professional. Evidently Tom Cruise wasn't satisfied with where the boundaries were set in the making of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, so he instead found a new hire who would set the boundaries to his liking. It has been previously said by producer David Ellison, the CEO of Skydance Productions, that the original insurance company brought on to the production was fired and replaced.
It was in that casual revelation that Matt Damon understood how Tom Cruise stood apart from him as an action star:
And I just go, ‘Stop!’ That’s where we’re different. When the safety guy says no, I’m like, ‘Well, safety guy says it’s not a good idea.’
Mission: Impossible fans can relive the wonder of the Burj Khalifa stunt by streaming Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol with a Paramount+ subscription along with all of the other movies in the series – and that should also serve to tease your appetite for the blockbuster action that's to come later this summer. The star-studded Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 will be heading to theaters on July 12, and it has already promised us the insanity that is Tom Cruise jumping off of a cliff while riding a motorcycle.