YOU HAD ME AT HELLO: TOM CRUISE, MY HERO
Have I learned anything new about Tom Cruise ? Not really as the informations contained in this book have been talked about for years now but what I found surprising is the way Morton seems to see Tom Cruise. I was expecting him to paint Cruise as a control-freak, some kind of devilish monster but I discovered that he actually rather considers him as a victim ! Tom Cruise, a victim, that’s new! But a victim of whom?
Of his wives. First, according to Morton, Cruise was a victim of Mimi Rogers appetite for fame. She is supposed to have lurned him into Scientology in order to advance her own career in Hollywood. She is portrayed as a talentless actress - despite her brillant roles such as Sharon in The Rapture (1990) - who was sleeping her way to the top. Your typical American actress right?
Then, Cruise fell under the spell of Nicole Kidman. While he was totally in love with her, showering her with gifts and nice intentions like writing her love notes, Kidman was a mega-bitch to him. On one hand Morton writes that Kidman became fed up with her controlling husband and started flirting with her co-stars and even her driver, on the other hand he says that Kidman didn’t see the break-up coming and kept repeating to her friends that she didn’t know why he left her.
According to the “biographer”, Cruise was not only a victim of the women of his life but also of Scientology and David Miscavidge. I am not going to discuss this subject. Not because I am afraid of Scientology or because I am a Scientologist (isn’t it funny that if you have the slightest like for Tom Cruise that you are automatically suspected to be a Scientologist?). I am not going to write about it any further because I am not going to play Morton’s game. Tom Cruise isn’t only his wives and Scientology. Tom Cruise is an actor, a brillant one and I didn’t feel that Morton acknowledges this anywhere. Of course he quoted Cruise co-stars and directors who stated how great he is but the only thing that Morton really emphasized was Cruise’s private life. What he serves us is cheap psychological theories to explain Cruise way of life. That’s nice Mr. Morton but how can you dwell into the mind of someone who you haven’t talked to ? He hasn’t interviewed Cruise but only pilled up gossips about him to sell a tell-all-book. Is there any passion in this book? No. Is there anything about movies Cruise made that could be of any interest for cinema fans ? No. I am so tired of reading and hearing the same stuff about Tom Cruise, mainly the following stupid formula: “He is small and he is a scientologist therefore he is a bad actor”. What kind of total nonsense is that ? So this is me, again, defending one of my favourite actors, telling you MY TRUE STORY ABOUT TOM CRUISE.
I have never had a crush on Tom Cruise. Most people I tell about my liking of him immediately accuse me of being nothing more than a groupie. So let me say it again: I HAVE NEVER HAD A CRUSH ON TOM CRUISE.
Like most people on this planet I had teen idols, celebrities I fancied but I had this kind of attention towards Tom Cruise. It might sounds strange but I think I admired him since I was a child. When I was a kid I already had people I looked up to. It was first Arthur Rimbaud and then Saint-Just (the French revolutionary). Until that day I still consider them as my heroes. They are my historical models but if I had to pick up only one person that inspire me in Hollywood I would definitely choose Tom Cruise. What is the similarity between Rimbaud, Saint-Just and Tom Cruise ? They were YOUNG, DETERMINED and DRIVEN. When I was younger, this is how I wanted to be. This is still how I want to be and probably already am. You are going to argue that it is impossible as a kid to already be this demanding on yourself and to be able to feel close to dead or famous people but that’s truly the root of my liking of Tom Cruise. I grew up with his movies but I didn’t really understand them as I was too young. I just liked Tom Cruise, I knew, sensed who he was. One day at school I remember reading an article in a newspaper about Batman Forever, presenting Nicole Kidman as his wife. My dad had taken my sister, brother and me to watch it a few days ago but Kidman didn’t really make any impression on me. But when I discovered she was his wife I said to myself :” Oh, she is married to Tom Cruise!”. It was suddenly like Cruise was really for real, not historically real like Rimbaud and Saint-Just. I also remember being absolutely amazed by the look he had in his eyes in Mission Impossible I, when he said to Kitridge: “You’ve never really seen me upset”. I wanted to be able to give that kind of look. I guess it is at that moment that I somehow knew that I understand how he functionnes because I function just like he does. I perhaps realized with those two events that I finally had found someone to look up to that was from my century which meant that it was possible, in my time, to be great. It took me more time to genuily recognize his talent as an actor.
I was 13 years old and I was obsessed with Anne Rice’s Interview with a vampire. More precisely I was totally subjugated by the character of Lestat (I hated Louis, just like I wanted to slap Verlaine and Robespierre because of their weaknesses). I loved Lestat because he reminded me of myself and at the same time of the kind of person I wanted to become: completely free and powerful.
I discovered that there was a cinematographic adaptation of the novel with Tom Cruise and started talking to my friends about how much I wanted to see it. DVDs weren’t cheap as they are today and I didn’t see myself asking my parents to buy me a movie about vampires as I was too young. It is a friend of mine who gave it to me as a present. Interview with a vampire was my first DVD. My first DVD was a Tom Cruise movie. I knew little about cinema at that age but after watching Interview with a vampire I KNEW what a great acting perfomance was. I was just amazed to see Cruise BEING Lestat. Because it was Lestat, it was him for sure. And Cruise got it so right because he had the same fire inside that Lestat had. Young, determined, driven. It is notorious that Anne Rice strongly disapproved of Cruise being casted as Lestat. After seeing the film, she bought pages in various papers to praise him for his portrayal of the vampire (you can read the full articles here):
"The charm, the humor and the invincible innocence which I cherish in my beloved hero Lestat are all alive in Tom Cruise’s courageous performance".
- ad in Daily Variety September 23, 1994
"From the moment he appeared Tom was Lestat for me. He has the immense physical and moral presence; he was defiant and yet never without conscience; he was beautiful beyond description yet compelled to do cruel things. The sheer beauty of Tom was dazzling, but the polish of his acting, his flawless plunge into the Lestat persona, his ability to speak rather boldly poetic lines, and speak them with seeming ease and conviction were exhilarating and uplifting. The guy is great".
"Tom’s bedside seduction of the dying Louis, in which he offers Louis the Dark Gift. Once again, Tom gave Lestat the virility and the androgyny that made both him and the offer irresistible. He was near blinding. I would have accepted the Dark Gift from him then and there. Only an actor with complete confidence and conviction could have done that scene or any of the others".
"Tom riding his horse through the slaves’ fire, and then turning the hors e around so that he could face the suspicious mortals. That was on a par with Errol Flynn and Rudy Valentino. It was on a par with the opera greats who have played Mephistopheles. Only a genuine "star" can make a moment like that, and I’m as confused as to why…just as much as anyone in Hollywood. Let’s close this one out with one word: Grand! (No, can’t stop talking about it)".- Variety, January 3, 1995.
Anne … I KNOW! I CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT TOO ! Since I saw Interview with a vampire I never ever doubted Cruise’s acting abilities. I had a conversation about him a couple of days ago at work (which probably motivated the redaction of this article) and I said to my interlocutor that Tom Cruise is always on the right tone when he acts. He is always right in his portraying of a character. You just can’t take that away from him.
Time has passed since I watched Interview with the vampire. I still adored Tom Cruise but as I became more and more passionate about cinema I discovered other actors, actresses and movies that kind of made me forget a little that he was my original favourite actor, the first that I discovered and aknowledged as such.
I was really pissed off by all the bashing he got because of his jump-couching performance at Oprah but I didn’t say much about it, I didn’t try to defend him. It was not my mission after all, he is only an actor. When I was living in London last year I went to watch Hair in Soho. The premiere of Knight and Days was taking place next to the theatre, at Leicester Square. So after seeing the musical I decided with my friend to go there and perhaps see Tom Cruise. There was so many people that we ended up almost at the very end of the queue. I felt joy at the sight of this huge population that was there to see Tom Cruise. I started talking to a man who goes to every premiere in London. He told me that Cruise is by far the nicest celebrity he had ever met. Cruise usually doesn’t see his own movies at premieres because he stays with the fans, not only signing autographs but agreeing to talk to someone’s mother or sister on the phone. I didn’t see Tom Cruise because he had to go inside. I felt relieved. I realized I didn’t want to meet him that way, I didn’t really want to meet him at all actually. Because it would have been just too much. It all came back to me that day. How much I love Tom Cruise, how he is for me one of the few real Hollywood actors left, how much I admire him for being so young when he started but yet so focused, how he stood still while the press and the world were mocking him. I decided that I would open my mouth next time someone will say that he is a bad actor just because of the life he has chosen to lead.
People, you can hate on him all you want because he is a scientologist, because he is small and ugly but just don’t say that he is a bad actor. Just remember how much he made you laugh in Tropic Thunder, how much you wanted to be him or with him in Top Gun, how he almost brought you to tears in Magnolia and gave it all in Eyes Wide Shut. And to people who still secretly love that guy, feel free to say it. You are not an has-been because you enjoy his movies, you are not the member of a cult because you like the guy, you are not a stupid fangirl because you think he is a Hollywood legend. Don’t do to that man what you did to Michael Jackson. Don’t crucify him now and then cry and say how great he was when he will no longer be there. You still have a true Hollywood legend alive, appreciate it just a little, there are good reasons to do so. It is FREAKING ALRIGHT to like Tom Cruise !
Anne Rice wrote the following passage thinking of Lestat. I borrow it from her as I feel it exactly describes how I will probably forever feel about Tom Cruise :
That was and is my hero. That was and is my man.
Lestat just won’t be afraid of anybody. He won’t stand for it (…) He cannot do anything but move forward, attempt to make existence worth it, attempt to create. He knows the formula for success, and has no patience with the formula for failure.
That’s MY Tom Cruise.