- 03 Feb 02
Craig Fitzsimons hears Tom Cruise's take on his latest big screen blockbuster, the Cameron Crowe directed Vanilla Sky
“I want to make something clear about that scene right now. Computers didn’t do it. It’s not CGI.” The speaker is Tom Cruise. The occasion is the press conference for his new movie, the Cameron Crowe-directed Vanilla Sky, and the scene in question involves the diminutive mega-star tearing around an entirely depopulated Times Square in sheer terror, as the camera veers 360 degrees around him (through fast edits) to reveal that he is completely alone in the universe. The logistics of this set-up may seem incredible, but clearly when you possess possibly the most recognisable face on the planet, the traffic literally does come to a halt on command. “We really did shut down Times Square which is something that had never been done before. It was a Sunday morning between about 6am and 8. That’s one of the things about this movie that was a total blast to me. I just love it when I get to do something that I’ve never done before in a film.”
By now, it’s over twenty years since a nineteen-year-old Thomas Cruise Mapother IV received his first break, appearing in the movie Endless Love (1981) – and apart from a brief lull at the beginning of the 1990s, his box-office appeal has endured considerably longer than any of his brat-packer contemporaries (Where are you now, the brothers Sheen?) The only son of four kids born to his nomadic parents, by the time he was fourteen he had attended 15 different schools in Canada and the US. Cruise would seem to crave permanency and belonging – at 14 years old, he enrolled in a Franciscan seminary with the intention of becoming a priest. He dropped out a year later but remained a devout Catholic until, in 1990, he renounced his beliefs and embraced L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, claiming the movement had cured him of his dyslexia. Equally, aside from a couple of brief romantic dalliances (Melissa Gilbert and everybody’s favourite drag queen Cher were among them), Cruise has gone from one stable relationship to another. His first wife Mimi Rogers was, after four years, succeeded in 1990 by Nicole Kidman, who in turn was ousted last year by Spanish starlet and Vanilla Sky co-star Penelope Cruz.
Today, when a journalist enquires about the Cruise/Cruz blossoming romance on the Vanilla Sky set, Tom stresses that this was not the case – “This relationship wasn’t going on when we were making the picture. I can’t control what people write about my personal life, I was just going to make the movie... I will always love Nic, but I’m not someone who lives in the past. I’m a realist. We have a family together but I don’t get stuck in, you know, difficult things.” Then again, an admission to initiating the Cruz relationship during the production could affect a possible divorce settlement, or worse still, impact on his fight for joint custody of he and Kidman’s two adopted children, so it’s small wonder that Cruise sounds more magnanimous and guarded than Kidman on the subject of their divorce. (She was recently quoted as saying ‘Now, I can wear heels!’, in what sounded like a cheap shot relating to his 5-foot-7 stature).