A-list celebrities don’t come much bigger (if at all) than Tom Cruise. From Cocktail to Top Gun, Tropic Thunder to Magnolia I have seen so many of his movies. Undoubtably though, it will be the Mission: Impossible franchise for which many people know him these days.
According to his Wikepedia filmography page he has been active as an actor since 1981 (the year after I was born) but I’ll be honest, I’m not really familiar with his films prior to Top Gun. Actually, researching this post, I realised that Top Gun came before Cocktail with The Colour of Money sandwiched in between.
The Mission: Impossible series of films is now shooting the 7th outing for Ethan Hunt and promises to deliver the usual high-octane, stunt-filled cinema we’ve become accustomed to. One of these stunts will involve a train, and I know this because, amazingly, the MI production rolled into town last week to film!
Yes, Tom Cruise and the entire MI7 production crew descended on Pickering to film on the North York Moor Railway. Amazingly it was all kept very quiet until he was spotted and word spread that he was in the area. I was satisfied with knowing he was around until my eldest daughter showed me her friend had managed to get a picture with him.
So I took on my own Mission: Impossible – to get to see the man for myself.
After work one day I was due to pick up G and D from afterschool clubs. L was not home and when I called to find out where she was she had gone hunting for Tom with a friend.
Scooping up G and D we then went to find L and her friend. While they were certainly near the NYMR line I wasn’t sure they were in the right place. Some blacked-out 4x4s went past use and then a van with the driver in orange hi-vis (the type worn by railway workers). I flagged him down.
He confirmed my suspicions, the filming was taking place nearer to Levisham station further up the line. It was quite a walk from where we were so I got them in the car and we headed for Levisham.
Nothing about this sleepy, quaint and, frankly, beautiful North Yorkshire village gave away that Hollywood was in town. Absolutely nothing! But, the station is actually at the bottom of the valley the village sits on top of so we had to check that out.
As I’ve walked the public footpaths around there I knew the most direct route to the station was over fields and down the side of the valley. So I set off pace.
As we rounded and bend in the path on the side of the valley the station came into view below us. The site of a helicopter in a field and marquees dotted around gave me the clue that there was something going on down there. As we neared the bottom of the hillside the distinctive sound of helicopter rotor blade spinning field the air. A helicopter fitted with a huge camera rig on the front appeared over the trees and swooped off to the south. Initially my heart sank – were they filming nearer Pickering after all?
We carried on to the station and as we came through a gate to the road we saw some people gathered – clearly waiting for ‘something’. We were going to see Tom Cruise?
There was a lot of activity down there. Minibuses were parked in every available space and as we waited some smart looking cars and taxis started to arrive. A few of the crew began to leave and I overheard one say to another “he’ll be out in a minute, they’re just de-rigging”. I took the ‘he’ to mean Tom Cruise, but she could have been talking about anyone really. It was the ‘de-rigging’ part that meant the days filming was coming to a close.
The filming helicopter came in the land above some trees and I had the perfect window through them to capture an awesome photo. I’ve since found out this helicopter belongs to GB Helicopters who specialise in aerial filming.
Then a man appeared and addressed the waiting crowd. He said Tom would be coming out to have photos taken with anyone who wanted one but we needed to mask-up and ensure we were socially distance in groups. As we waited, a blacked out Mercedes passed and through the slightly open I saw who I though was Hayley Atwell, one of the co-stars in the film. I instantly waved (like an idiot) and she (whoever she was) smiled and waved back.
And then, just like that Tom Cruise was standing just meters from us.
Yes, he was wearing a mask, but it was clearly him. Nobody seemed to be losing their cool though, it was all pretty calm really.
We were near the back of the queue so we waited patiently for our turn. The man who announced he was coming out took my camera and we posed, socially distanced with Tom.
There wasn’t much talking, though I did great with with “ay up Mr Cruise, ‘ows tha doin’, nice to meet you” and he seemed a little bamboozled at first by the Yorkshire dialect. But he replied with a “really nice to meet you too”.
I was tempted to ask him what the hell Magnolia was all about as it remains the only film Helen and I have ever walked out of the cinema while watching. But, I decided it probably wouldn’t have been my best choice of question. So I asked if he was enjoying Yorkshire instead. Apparently he was.
A click of the camera and we’re saying goodbye and we’re on our way back up the hill.
We saw his personal helicopter taking off as we climbed back up the valley side towards the village. The man can certainly fly, that’s for sure.
It quite surreal really as experiences go. But one I am glad we made the effort. When I’m old I’ll be able to say “remember that time we met Tom Cruise?”.