Actor Hiroyuki Sanada said he came about half an inch from chopping off Tom Cruise's head with a sword while filming a fight scene for "The Last Samurai."

Sanada, who plays a samurai in the movie, said he was swinging a real sword when Cruise's mechanical horse malfunctioned and didn't fall down as planned.

"Tom's neck was right in front of me, and I tried to stop swinging my sword but it was hard to control with one hand," Sanada said.

When he finally stopped the sword, the blade was a mere half-inch from Cruise's neck, Sanada told reporters Thursday through a translator while promoting the film in Taipei, Taiwan.

DESERET MORNING NEWS, SUNDAY, JAN. 18, 2004