The Top Gun star was photographed in the U.K. last year (14) clinging on to the side of an Airbus A400M military plane in dramatic scenes for director Christopher MCQuarrie's upcoming fifth instalment in the franchise, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, and his co-star Simon Pegg recently admitted he feared for Cruise's life as he watched the superstar in action from the ground.

Pegg said, "When it took off, he had to wear special lenses so his eyes weren't blown out and he did it - it was incredible and mind blowing. Watching it, I thought, 'He could die and I'm about to watch Tom Cruise splat on the runway.'"

Now Cruise has opened up about the hair-raising shoot, confessing he was so concerned about how the scene would play out onscreen, he only recognised his feelings of fear when it was too late to call in a stunt double.

The 53 year old tells Empire magazine, "Let me tell ya, I thought, 'Oh s**t! Holy s**t! What am I doing?' I'm thinking of the composition; where should my feet go? When will it hit the audience the most? I'm looking at it from MCQ's perspective, I'm looking at it from Wade (Eastwood)'s perspective, our stunt co-ordinator, in terms of safety. And I'm having to act as we're going along. Plus I have lines to give."

Cruise had to film the sequence eight times, with just a harness securing him to the aircraft as it took off and flew 5,000 feet (1,524 kilometres) in the air, and despite taking a painful hit in the ribs from a small stray stone, the actor insisted on carrying on with the shoot to make the most of the daylight.

Luckily, the pebble did not do any real damage to Cruise and he was able to bounce back quickly to do another take.

He says, "I knew we didn't have a lot of light because it was winter in England, so, as soon as we landed, I gave them a thumbs up: 'I'm good, let's get it again.'"

MCQuarrie admits he is thankful for the aircraft's test pilot, who literally held Cruise's life in his hands, as he managed to get his leading man safely back on the ground every time.

The filmmaker says, "If the plane went beyond a certain threshold, nothing was going to keep Tom on."