With his long hair and a radiant, snow-white smile, he has achieved the epitome of the Hollywood star. The admiring crowds in Cannes received Tom Cruise this Wednesday with overwhelming applause and wild screams. The star took over the Cannes festival with a premiere where the French Air Force flew a red carpet to celebrate the European release of Top Gun: Maverick.
Shortly before the event, the actor, dressed from head to toe in black, spoke to a crowded hall about his career and his passion: “cinema”. Cruise didn’t share any major revelations with the 1,300-strong audience, but he did offer a handful of notable anecdotes. 30 years ago he attended the French festival for the first time, when far and away with Nicole Kidman, concluded the 1992 edition. The actress, his ex-wife, did not appear in the video presenting Cruise’s filmography, but he mentioned her on stage, recalling the filming eyes wide closed and his conversations “with Stanley [Kubrick] and Nick.”
The actor hasn’t strayed an inch from his identity as a “lover of cinema.” During the conversation, he reiterated three mantras: “I make films for the big screen.” “I make films for the public.” “It’s different to write and make a film for television than it is for the cinema,” Cruise recounted that he called theater owners during the pandemic to reassure them of both Impossible Mission 7 and 8 and Top Gun: Maverick would hit the cinemas. Before the coronavirus changed the world, Top Gun: Maverick was scheduled for a June 24, 2020 release date. Could it have been released on a platform? “It didn’t happen and it won’t happen. Always,” he replied. The film will eventually hit theaters on May 26th.
For the actor, after the past two years, it’s a “great privilege to be here in a room without masks, looking at each other’s faces.” And he insisted he still goes to the cinema to watch movies. “You have to see films in the cinema. There you feel part of a community, you share the experience. I know the business, but I like the experience of making long-running films on the big screen. Cinema is my passion. I always go to the cinema when they come out. I put on my hat and sit in the audience with everyone.”
Cruise recalled enjoying watching movies since he was four years old. “I’ve also written things, characters, and I’ve climbed trees. i was a dreamer As a teenager I sold Christmas cards door to door or mowed the lawn. I spent what I earned on going to the cinema,” he recalls. “I was making my own videos when I was 18. I didn’t go to film school, but I learned on set.” He reiterated his commitment to learning from everyone and everything. “You have to work hard to learn. I photograph in different parts of the world and enjoy immersing myself in their cultures and languages. people interest me. History interests me.”
Cruise went into detail and explained his natural habitat, the film set. “Each film is an accumulation of knowledge from the previous ones. My second film was Taps and that’s when I sat down to chat with George C. Scott. I have imposed myself. He shared with me all kinds of knowledge, memories. He gave me good advice when I told him that I want to devote myself to this for the rest of my life: ‘All you have to do is do your best every day,'” he recalls. “That’s why I love working with film crews. I’ve worked with incredible creators like Tony Scott [who directed the first Top Gun in 1986]. Everything is important. Tap was an incredible five week course. I even watched the daily footage we were shooting. They taught me how light conveys different feelings even when the actor is doing the same.”
The risks that the audience loves
Aren’t you scared of starring in so many dangerous action sequences? “Naturally.” So why is he doing it? “Would you ask Gene Kelly why does he do all his own dances?” And he recalls: “I was four and a half years old when I climbed onto the roof of the garage of my house while my mother was in the kitchen and I was with me parachuted out of a sheet. The moment my feet left the roof, I realized this wasn’t a good idea. It would either kill me or later my mother.” He knows that his passion for risk benefits his films: “I think about the viewers and their experience.”
Top Gun: Maverick has no special effects apart from the explosions. The actors actually flew in jets. Cruise recalled that in the first part of 1986, many aerial shots were ruined by the actors’ vomiting. This time he planned and executed a detailed flight dive schedule for his younger colleagues. Why did it take 36 years to shoot the second part? “They offered it to me, but back then I needed to grow as an artist. The sequels need to engage in dialogue with the public. This has been years in the making. I even spoke to Tony about it [Scott, who passed away in 2012]. I put a lot of time and energy into every project.” And does he see this as the end of your career? “No, because I keep studying, making films, looking for stories. I’m thinking about the next and the next and the next and working with a team and seeing how I can help and how they can help me.”