The 50-year-old actor was only 19 when he appeared in the drama as weapon-loving Cadet Captain David Shawn, and was "terrified" the stunts could go wrong and it would be the last movie he ever worked on.
Tom recalled to W magazine: "In one scene, I was firing a machine gun out a window, and I looked down and there was a guy shooting back at me. This was my first experience with stunts - and an expert marksman was aiming at me!
"I didn't want to look like I was dumb, but between takes I pulled the guy aside and said, 'Have you done this before? You're not going to shoot me, are you?' I was terrified that my first big part would be my last."
The 'Jack Reacher' star has grown to love high-adrenaline stunts, and he admitted earlier this month he will "never tire" of performing his own stunt, and enjoys trying to keep besting the dare-devil scenes he has shot before.
He said: "When I'm doing stunt movies you always have some sort of injury. Even with the high-speed car crashes that we had - I never tire of it actually.
"It's really fun and I keep thinking about what it's going to look like and that it's going to entertain an audience. So it's fun doing it and trying to figure out, can we do it? How far can we push it?
"When I start working on a piece of material I get very excited about the potential of doing something that hadn't been seen before, that I haven't done before."