Court documents in a lawsuit that followed a fatal plane crash during the making of the film “American Made” accuse star Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman of lax safety on the set.
The website TheBlast.com excerpted documents in which the estates of pilots Alan Purwin and Carlos Berl, who died in the September 11, 2015, crash in the Andes Mountains near Medellin, Colombia, blame “Cruise’s and director Doug Liman’s enthusiasm for multiple takes of lavish flying sequences” in dangerous terrain. They allege this “added hours to every filming day and added days to the schedule,” resulting in rushing and corner-cutting on the day of the accident.
Cruise and Liman are not named in the suit against production companies Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment and Cross Creek Pictures, said People magazine, which examined the documents obtained by TheBlast. Neither outlet specified which lawsuit or follow-up motions were being referenced: The Purwin family sued in April 2016; one of the film’s insurance companies sued another in June; Cross Creek sued the plane’s owner, S&S Aviation, this month, and according to Variety, the Berl family filed a lawsuit on Sept. 13, 2016.
In one excerpt, an executive producer allegedly wrote to one of the insurance companies that Liman and Cruise were “adding entire scenes and aerial shots on the fly.”
Purwin, the documents say, emailed that same executive producer weeks before the crash to say, “Ray [Chen], you have no idea the exposure TC [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!” He added that the film, about real-life pilot Barry Seal, recruited by the CIA in the 1980s to infiltrate the Pablo Escobar drug cartel, was “the most dangerous project I’ve ever encountered.”
Calling the flight of the twin-engine Piper Smith Aerostar 600 “a spontaneous, rushed, ad hoc mission over unfamiliar terrain, in unfamiliar weather, from a small jungle airstrip,” the documents added that Cruise, “a well-qualified pilot very familiar with the Aerostar and the routing,” could have chosen to fly the plane himself.
Representatives for Cruise and Liman did not respond to Newsday requests for comment.
The film, originally titled “Mena,” is set for release Sept. 29.