By Shirley Li
July 27, 2018 at 11:30 AM EDT

Henry Cavill nearly got to work with Tom Cruise before joining Mission: Impossible — Fallout. The two were in talks to costar in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but Cruise dropped out to focus on producing and filming Fallout‘s predecessor, Rogue Nation.

So, when Cavill got the call to join Fallout as CIA agent August Walker — a man who ends up butting heads with Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, thanks to their “different ideals about how to achieve things” — he couldn’t be more pleased to follow through after their “near-miss” years ago. “I was very excited to finally get the chance to work with Tom,” he says. “Tom remembered very precise details of our previous conversation, which I did not remember. He’s excellent at that.”

It’s not the only thing the Mission: Impossible franchise’s star is excellent at. In Fallout, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Cavill and Cruise star in several set pieces, including a helicopter sequence shot over the Southern Alps for four weeks in frigid New Zealand. Cruise, McQuarrie marvels, had no trouble pulling off the “incredibly difficult, incredibly challenging” stunt, despite everything he was asked to do. “When we call action, he has to haul the other helicopter into the frame, so he’s actually flying the helicopter, operating the camera, and acting all at the same time, while maintaining a situational awareness of all the helicopters around him,” the director recalls. “It required Tom to be performing multiple functions at the same time.”

Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures

Cavill, meanwhile, remembers struggling with the temperature and intensity of the stunt, which he says was the toughest but most memorable one he worked on. “We’d go up for half an hour to an hour at a time, and when you’re at that altitude with the doors open, and you can’t hear anything apart from the rotor blades going,” he says, “all you have is your own inner voice saying, ‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m cold.'”

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Watching Cruise work, though, helped him pull through. “Tom’s tirelessness is definitely encouraging,” Cavill says. “I have never come across someone who can live in both the space of an actor and the space of a producer at the same time. In the middle of a take, he’ll be producing the movie in his head as he’s performing — he’ll just suddenly stop and repeat something because in his head, he knows that thing isn’t gonna cut well with what he wants to cut with in a scene later.”

“His brain must work at a million miles an hour,” he concludes. “It makes you want to push yourself.”

Mission: Impossible — Fallout is in theaters now.