At this point in time the Mission: Impossible series is less a sequence of movies that slowly ramp up in scale and scope and more a cry for help from actor Tom Cruise as he literally throws himself headfirst into a seemingly never-ending series of life threatening situations to prove how big his dick is. Curiously, despite each film getting a bigger and bigger budget, the series’ most dangerous stunt happened in the first film and necessitated the hiring of a guy tasked with doing nothing but watch a tank full of fake fish.
The stunt we’re talking about takes place in the now iconic scene in which Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt has to haul like, so much ass out of a restaurant when he’s accused of being a mole. Ass hauling that is facilitated by tactical use of a stick of gum that doubles as a hand grenade that seems to only destroy plate glass he tosses at an aquarium.
Filmed on a purpose built set in Paramount Studios, the explosion and resulting cascade of fish-water reportedly almost fucking killed Cruise when he and the guy in charge of the explosion couldn’t agree on when exactly they were going to detonate the aquarium. With the guy eventually just telling Cruise to run as fast as he could as soon as heard something explode. Advice the actor has apparently never stopped listening to.
Anyway, while the restaurant the explosion happened in didn’t actually exist, the fish inside the tank that was detonated were. Kind of. To explain, the fish in the aquarium during the lead up to the explosion were real, but the ones inside of it when it exploded were fake. Which makes sense because nobody really wants a cool stunt to be punctuated by a tsunami of recently exploded fish shit.
Here’s the thing though, if you make a movie in America that features animals and want to have that little sign in the credits that says “No Animals Were Harmed” you need to have a representative from the American Human Society on set making sure nobody is a dick to whatever animals you have on set. Yes, even fish.
As a result, during the scene where they explode the aquarium a rep from the AHS and a “fish specialist” were present “twenty four hours a day“, even when the tank was filled with fake fish. You know, just in case.
Meaning that someone in the 1990’s got paid an entire day’s wage to watch a tank full of fake fish as Tom Cruise argued with a producer about when they were going to blow it up. And they say being in show-business is hard.