Tom Cruise Film Became The “Most Dangerous Project” For Pilot Who Lost His Life During An Aerial Stunt


Starring Tom Cruise, American Made is a fast-paced film that follows the story of a mischievous risk taker, Barry Seal, who started as a TWA pilot and then became a CIA contractor, ends up supplying arms, trafficking drugs for Escobar, and training an illegal Nicaraguan army.

American Made was inspired by various tales about Barry Seal and is considered worth watching. But the incident that happened on its set literally shocked the whole world. During the movie’s filming in Colombia, two men died, and Tom Cruise was the one who was partially blamed.

Court Documents Blamed Tom Cruise for Fatal Accident on Movie Set

Three pilots were hired in the movie American Made, but unfortunately, two of them died during filming when their twin-engine Piper Smith Aerostar 600 went down in the mountains.

On the set of the film in Colombia on September 11, 2015, two people — Alan Purwin and Carlos Berl died, and severe injuries were caused to another member of the crew — Jimmy Lee Garland, who left without feeling in the lower half of his body in a plane crash. According to the court documents, the death of Purwin and Berl claimed that Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman wanted to film a “high-risk, action-packed motion picture,” which contributed to the situation and ultimately led to the fatal accident. The documents state:

“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.”


In 2016, the documents attempted to suggest that overwork and unsafe practices in the film (partially stemming from Cruise and the director) led to the whole situation.

The Families of the Dead Sued the Producers of American Made

The families of Purwin (his wife, Kathryn, and his adult children) and Berl sued the film producers — Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment, and Cross Creek Pictures — for wrongful death and for ignoring safety procedures. The documents say:

“Lapses in planning, coordinating, scheduling, and flight safety that were the Defendants’ responsibility resulted in an unqualified and unprepared pilot being pressed into service for a dangerous flight in a vintage aircraft across an unfamiliar mountain pass in bad weather.”

Cruise and Liman weren’t named defendants, but the families argue their negligence allowed the flight in unsafe conditions. They also claim an executive producer filed a formal complaint about Cruise and Liman with the insurance company. He said:

“DL [Director Liman] and TC [Cruise] [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 sh*t I’ve ever dealt with.”

Following the lawsuit, later in 2018, the producers filed a counterclaim against Purwin’s company, Heliblack, and estate. They alleged Purwin purchased a faulty plane and misrepresented his qualifications to secure the job. In 2019, the producers of the Tom Cruise film have settled all litigation, the terms of which were not disclosed.