The families of two men killed in an airplane crash during the filming of Tom Cruise’s action-thriller movie American Made say that the actor himself and director Doug Liman share some of the blame for the deadly accident.
On Sept. 11, 2015, a twin-engine Smith Aerostar 600 was flying from Santa Fe de Antiogia, Colombia, to Medellin when it crashed in the Andes Mountains during a storm. Pilot Carlos Berl and Alan Purwin, whose company Heliblack owned the airplane, were killed. Jimmy Garland, the CEO and partner of S&S Aviation, survived but was rendered paraplegic.
The crash triggered a multitude of lawsuits, including one filed but the families of Mr. Berl and Mr. Purwin.
The Blast recently obtained court documents that describe American Made, which opens in theaters Sept. 28, as a “high-risk, action-packed motion picture.”
Although the lawsuit does not name Mr. Cruise and Mr. Liman as defendants, lawyers for the defendants describe how “the demands of filming in Colombia, together with Cruise’s and director Doug Liman’s enthusiasm for multiple takes of lavish flying sequences, added hours to every filming day and added days to the schedule.”
According to The Blast, the plaintiffs point to communications among the producers and others made during the filming of the movie indicating that flight shoots bordered on reckless and left some fearing for their lives.
A few weeks before the crash, Mr. Purwin emailed one of the executive producers saying “You have no idea the exposure (Tom Cruise) and the entire Aerial Team is realizing every time we get in the air. There’s a very ‘thin line’ between keeping all aerial activities safe and having an accident. Trust me on this!”
“I’m in the most compromising position in my career. I realized I signed up for this, and I’m doing my absolute best to keep all operations involving the Aerostar and (Tom Cruise) safe and from having any type of accident or incident,” Mr. Purwin wrote, explaining how the flight sequences amounted to “the most dangerous project I’ve ever encountered.”
Mr. Purwin even explicitly foreshadows his own death, telling the same producer that some of the shooting “took every ounce of skill I had to ensure (Tom Cruise), Cesar and I wouldn’t be coming home in a box.”
The lawsuit claims one of the executive producers sounded a complaint to one of the film’s insurers about Mr. Cruise and Mr. Liman, saying they are “adding entire scenes and aerial shots on the fly. Had to bring in Uni Safety to help wrangle them. In the last 48 hours this has become the most insane s*** I’ve ever dealt with.”
As for the doomed flight that claimed the lives of Mr. Purwin and Mr. Berl, the lawsuit calls it “a spontaneous, rushed, ad hoc mission over unfamiliar terrain, in unfamiliar weather, from a small jungle airstrip.”