The Larry King interview
Tom Cruise: Life, love and the pursuit of good film work
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LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Friday night is a moment of truth for husband-wife acting team Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, as their latest film -- the late Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" -- opens in nationwide release.
Cruise sat down for an interview with Larry King on Monday, for broadcast Thursday night.
They discussed how Cruise felt working with Kubrick and Kidman, plus issues surrounding his lawsuits against tabloids. The latest such legal effort involves an article that appeared in The Star in March, alleging that Cruise and Kidman had help from sex therapists in developing their on-screen chemistry for "Eyes Wide Shut." In the film, they play married psychologists who cheat on each other.
Larry King: You're in the news today.
Tom Cruise: Am I?
Q: Yes. The federal judge here in Los Angeles has decided to uphold your suit.
Q: Against "Star" magazine. They tried to get it dismissed.
Cruise: Yes. Of course they did.
Q: What did you make of that story?
Cruise: It's outrageous.
Tackling the tabloids
Q: They said that you had to go to a counselor?
Cruise: It's outrageous. It's so disgusting ... . For years you turn the other cheek, turn the other cheek. Then it reaches a point when you have children that -- they go to schools, they have parents. You write them saying, "Look, you know this is garbage. You know." On the side they kind of admit, that, "Yes, but what do you care?" Well, you know, the way the press goes now; it starts out as a rumor and then all of a sudden it goes and it feeds into the mainstream media.
Q: Becomes "enough is enough?"
Cruise: And then I just said, "Enough is enough," and I hired good lawyers. Basically, if they're not going to be responsible about it, I am going to make them be responsible about it. And the money, we give away to charity. I don't want it. I don't want the money. It's not about the money for me and Nic. And, you know, we just pay the lawyers off and give the rest to charity.
Q: Why would a happily married couple -- how would they dream up a story that you would need a sex counselor? I mean, where would that be ... .
Cruise: It's filthy.
Q: ... fathomed from?
Cruise: It's absolutely filthy ... . They want to sell newspapers, is what it is.
Q: I remember you called CNN on Princess Di. You called in that time.
Q: Over paparazzi and the like.
Pride and privacy
Q: Do you ever get used to it? You're world famous. Do you ever get where you're used to it?
Cruise: I don't know ... yes, at premiers and stuff. But it seems to have -- it's gotten bigger. It's changed.
Q: For the worse?
Cruise: Yes, it's gotten worse over the years, and it started to calm down a little bit when I just said, "Look, I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair." And a lot of the really good guys have backed off. It's odd because when I started out -- I remember my first big movie, "Risky Business" (1983) -- I knew a lot of them. You'd see a lot of these guys around.
Even when I was a young guy and, you know, you're going to clubs and stuff like that, you know, "Hey, Tom." It was easy, and you could say, "Not tonight." And you knew that they'd catch you another time. And it just -- the tone of it changed. And I still see a lot of the same guys around that I've known for maybe 10, 15 years, and they even roll their eyes.
Q: At what's happened?
Cruise: Yes, at the extremes. And I think that unfortunately -- look, it's not something I enjoy doing. I don't enjoy doing it. But it's something that I have to do for my family, and I will do. And I will follow it all the way through.
Getting to now
Q: Years ago when you made your last appearance with us, "Jerry Maguire" (1996) -- I told you "Jerry Maguire" would do good.
Cruise: You did. Yes, you did.
Q: I told you. You did "Jerry Maguire." And I said, "What are you going to do?" And you said you're going to do a movie with Kubrick. This is three years ago.
Q: Called "Eyes Wide Shut." I said, "What's it about?" And you said, "I can't even tell you what it's about." Three years: What took so long?
Cruise: It's a thriller about sexual obsession and jealousy. That's what it is.
Q: That's what you're saying?
Q: It's a lot more than that.
Cruise: What took so long? Well, when you're working, the most important thing to Stanley was time. That's what he paid for when he made a movie. Time was the most important thing. Stanley was a man who understood what worked best for him as an artist and he was an artist. He was a master, an auteur filmmaker. I was talking with Spielberg recently, you know, we were talking about it. He said, "It's almost (like) they're not movies. They're visions," his pictures.
Q: Even his misses are masterpieces.
Cruise: Yes, I mean, there's -- you know, no one considers any that he doesn't miss.
Q: So was it automatic you were going to work for him?
Cruise: Yes, I was going to work with (him).
Fax from Stanley
Q: In other words, he calls you, that's it.
Cruise: Well, he -- you know, Stanley Kubrick doesn't call you. He has a friend talk to you to get your fax number and then he faxes you. That's how it started out.
Q: Really? And what does the fax say?
Cruise: It says, "Hi, here's my number. Give me a call. I'd like to discuss a project that I'm interested in you for." And so I called him. And, you know, after having seen the fax on the desk for about 30 minutes and trying to figure out, "Should I call him now?" -- long discussions about, "Should I call him now? What should I say?" And I remember calling Sydney, and saying, "Now, what do I say to him? I mean, what ... ."
Q: Sydney Pollack?
Cruise: Yes, Sydney. "What do I say to him? I mean, I'm nervous." You know, then I start thinking -- you know, you start, "Well, look, he's a human being just like me. Everything's going to be fine." And when you talk to him ... he actually just made me feel very at ease.
Q: But he gets his money's worth if you give him -- I mean, if you get your price for a film, then you have to give him all of those years. When you break it down, it comes to a pretty good hourly rate from a movie standpoint, doesn't it? Or do you get overtime?
Cruise: No, there was no overtime. There was no overtime. But it doesn't matter. You're making a movie. For me it was the experience of making a movie with Stanley Kubrick.
Working with Kubrick
Q: Now, one thing that's always been said about you, you are one of the hardest workers -- everyone we've ever talked to. You don't mind doing a scene for the 22nd time. Did that make it easier to work with him, because he does a lot of that?
Cruise:Yes. He does a lot because he wants to explore a scene. When he's working on a (scene) -- you read the script, but he's still -- he's writing and he's working on the scene and finding it. And I think when you've seen the movie, you see the content, you see what the film is about, it needed that kind of exploration. It needed that kind of time on those scenes. And I was willing to go there -- Nic and I both were.
Q: Was he everything you expected?
Cruise: No, he was more than I expected. I think that I was nervous going into it before meeting him because I'd read the books, I'd seen all of his movies many, many times. But I was nervous. And I -- for someone who lives with the rumors and everything that are written and stuff -- that's just ridiculous ... .
Cruise:: ... and outrageous. No, the stuff about me and, you know, so I read things about him.
Q: So you read things about him.
Cruise: I could just kick myself, because I remember the first time that -- he was always really concerned about our welfare. Are we happy in our home? Do we like the place? And he called up and he said, you know, "Well, I want to come over," you know, the day we got in. "I want to come over and see the kids, and see you, and, you know, "see the house." And we were talking, and I said, "You're going to come over here?"
He said, "Yes, yes, I'm going to come over." I said, "How are you going to get here?" And he said, "I'm going to drive, Tom. Is that OK with you?" I said, "Yourself?" He said, "Yes, I'm going to drive myself. I do have a license." And I thought, "Oh, what a jerk," you know.
He was just extraordinary, demanding but not in a "we must have this now" way because he had total confidence in his ability, in his own ideas. So he didn't mind working on a scene and allowing the scene to evolve. And I think when you look at his movies -- even the format that he shoots it in -- you almost feel as if you're a voyeur watching, the picture almost develops.
Eyeing the results
Q: This is a movie you think about a lot after you see it, and you think about more each time. It's very engrossing, and certainly a departure for Tom Cruise.
Q: Was there any concern on your part that this is kind of a heavy role that the Cruise fans -- the "Top Gun" (1986) freaks maybe find this a little difficult to take?
Cruise: I don't know ... .
Q: Or don't you think about that at all?
Cruise: It didn't really enter into my mind about thinking what people are going to like. I liked it, and that's the only thing that I can really judge when I read a piece of material.
Q: Did Nicole like her part right away too?
Cruise:: Yes. I mean, the script was effective, and moving, and provoking, and working with him (Kubrick) in every scene he just -- you know, he would just caress and work on, and it was an extraordinary experience because Kubrick is a guy who gives you the landscape with the least amount of color so that, you know, almost -- he wants the audience to participate. He wants them to imbue almost their own life, and poses these questions to them so that the audience -- in a way -- they are experts.
You know, Stanley doesn't -- he's not a guy that heaps his opinions on you, even as a person when you're working with him.
Q: He's not making the statement, he's letting you make (it), right?
Cruise:: Exactly. He poses the questions. His answers are in there.
Q: So you may have a different approach than Nicole has.
Q: A different observation.
Cruise: About the movie, yes.
Cruise and his character
Q: Did you like the doctor?
Cruise: Did I like the character?
Q: Yes, did you like him?
Cruise: That's a great question. I found him frustrating at times, the doctor, personally. And I found him to be a very difficult character to play. I started to like him, and there are things about him that I liked and things about him that I didn't like.
Stanley was very specific, and we worked long on finding the behavior of Dr. Bill -- how he would retreat back into himself, into the security of his own authority of this doctor.
Q: Do you try to guess at what he (Dr. William Harford) must have been like when he was at medical school, and what the marriage was like in the beginning?
Cruise: Oh yes, we went through the whole -- yes, yes, you know, you go through the whole thing.
Q: Because the story doesn't tell you.
Cruise: No, I know; you go through the whole thing. Stanley's father was a doctor. You know, the apartment in the movie is Christiane's and Stanley's ... .
Q: Their actual apartment?
Cruise: That was their apartment in New York, and the paintings were Christiane's paintings. And, you know, he'd been working on and thinking about this movie for 28 years -- 28 years.
Q: Was he happy with it?
Cruise: Oh, he was so pleased. I mean, the last conversation -- well, I saw the movie, Nic and I did, at night twice in a row, once by ourselves the first time, which is -- he had always wanted us to see it alone.
Q: By yourselves, complete, music done, everything.
Cruise: Yes, he wanted us to see it. He couldn't wait to show us the movie. He couldn't wait for just the two of us to sit in a room and see it.
Q: Where did you see it?
Cruise: I saw it in New York, and I wanted to see it in London with him, but the time constraints -- because Nic was in London doing a play, and I had to get on a plane and go to Australia. Nic was in the final stages and she actually ended up having laryngitis. And, you know, we were kind of amazed by -- not "kind of," I was amazed by the movie, and stunned, and felt incredibly proud of the movie, and to have been a part of his picture.
Q: And then did you tell him that?
Cruise: Yes, I did, and he was just so happy. The three of us were so happy. It was extraordinary, and then I was on the plane. I talked to him for many, many hours afterwards. We were going through the film, and we were discussing the kind of marketing, and how he was going to approach it, and what he wanted, and, you know, "How are we going to do this?" and ... .
Q: Not an easy market,
Cruise: No, no. But I tell you one thing, Stanley had total faith in himself, absolute faith in his own idea.
Q: Do you learn a lot from people like that?
Cruise: Yes, I do.
Q: Bring it to what you do next too.
Cruise: Yes. He had a belief in himself. There's times -- it's not saying you don't question yourself, but -- I don't mean this in an arrogant way -- but somewhere inside, I've always had a belief in myself.
Q: You have to, to be a good actor.
Cruise: You have to. I have a belief in my choices, and that doesn't mean I don't have the standards of, a movie has to make X amount of millions of dollars, but I have belief in the choices that I make and what I want to do.
Budgets and projects
Q: Have you set for yourself such a standard because of the price you get, and your wife gets, that you have to make blockbuster movies, that it becomes incumbent on you by the pressure of the business?
Cruise: No, no.
Q: You would make a small movie?
Cruise: I just did ... I don't know if people want to ever think of their movies as small movies, you know?
Q: No, I mean by small, like a small-budget story.
Cruise: I made small budget, you know, "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) ... .
Q: Was a small budget?
Cruise: ... at the time was a small-budget picture.
Cruise: Oh yes, I mean relatively speaking "Eyes Wide Shut" is -- for its kind -- a small-budget picture.
Q: But there are no gimmicks in it.
Cruise: No, and I just did a picture with a wonderful director called Paul Thomas Anderson, where I played just a supporting role. It's called "Magnolia." That'll be coming out at Christmas. And I made a movie with -- that people thought, "Well here's this intimate little story, 'Jerry Maguire.'" I've made these movies.
Q: You took a small part in a movie, "Magnolia," because you just liked it?
Cruise: Yes because I liked the director. I mean, he directed "Boogie Nights" (1997), and he came out to the set and we were shooting ... and we hit it off.
Watching you watching me
Q: When you watch yourself, you're watching it -- you're sitting with Nicole, you're watching this movie -- can you be objective? Are you subjectively objective?
Cruise: With this movie, I can be -- it's hard. It's hard. You really have to discipline yourself to being objective about it. There're certain gray areas that I cannot be objective in, and that's why I would find it very difficult to direct myself.
Q: Ever think about it?
Cruise: Yes, I was -- I've been offered things to do, but I'm nervous that I'm not sure if I can direct myself. It would depend on the role, and I don't know. I don't know how that would be.
Q: All right, when you watched it with Nicole and you were riveted, the second ... .
Cruise: I was just riveted by myself. (laughs)
Q: No, I mean, you're sitting there ... .
Cruise: No, I mean -- but I'm looking -- you're looking at what he's done, because Stanley approached it as a writer when he was writing it, as a director when he was directing this picture, as an editor when he was editing the movie, and it's amazing to see what he had done, because I had seen every -- I mean, I worked almost every single day with this man for 18 months.
Q: You're in almost every single scene.
Cruise: I'm in almost every single scene, so I saw every single scene, every single take back. We'd sit at the video monitor, and he wanted to watch it and discuss it, and then I'd see. He'd call me in, in the morning and I'd look at the -- you know, he'd did an answer print for it. He'd look at the lighting and the film, and he spent a lot of time with me.
Shaking off the last one
Q: Al Pacino told us, Tom, that the toughest part of making a movie is to throw it off when you leave it. You go to the next part, and to leave that role that you've been ensconced in for so long -- was it hard for you to go from the doctor to an agent again? You're in Australia shooting "Mission Impossible."
Cruise: Yes, well I actually did "Magnolia" before that.
Q: Was it hard to do "Magnolia"?
Cruise: I'm glad I did "Magnolia" after I finished, because it helped me. It helped me transition from that character, especially. I've never been through an experience like this. I mean, I don't know if I ever will be. It was so consuming of my life.
Q: Working with your wife ... .
Working with Kidman
Q: ... Does that add to this, subtract from or immaterial? If it were you and another outstanding actress, would it have mattered? Does the fact that it's Nicole, it's your third movie together, make it better?
Cruise: I think it brings an element to the movie, just as actors that we are -- you know, have a very intimate relationship; we're married.
Q: He wanted a married couple?
Cruise: Well, I don't know if he wanted a married couple. I know that, you know, it's been reported since, but Stanley never discussed that with me. He never said that.
Q: "I wanted the both of you to be in this because you're married."
Cruise: No, he never really said that, but of course we're married, and that is a plus.
Q: Do you think that adds -- it certainly adds to our view of it.
Cruise: I think that he realized that. But he also realized that he wanted people that he felt were capable in the roles. You know, he's only made 13 movies, and I think there's a lot of our lives that we can bring to this picture.
Life and luck
Q: Before I ask about his passing, and a couple of other things, how do you view yourself? Do you ever pinch yourself at what happened in your career?
Cruise: I do, I do.
Q: I mean, when you think of "Risky Business," that young kid we saw bringing those girls to the house in Chicago?
Cruise: I tell you, when that Stanley Kubrick fax came across and here's Sydney Pollack, you know ... .
Q: In the movie too.
Cruise: Yes, and Sydney Pollack's in the movie, and Sydney Pollack's telling me that, you know -- and I'm going to work with Steven Spielberg next, you know, it's -- yes, you do.
I was there with my mother. You know, I showed it to my parents in Australia, because I didn't want them to see it the first night of the premiere. And they were amazed by the movie. And you know, you worry about your mom seeing, you know, here we are, but she's -- she's a pretty special woman. And they were amazed by it.
Yes, but we were talking about that the other day, that and I think, you know, that is part of it. I mean, Nic and I feel that way about it.
Q: She feels it too.
Cruise: Oh, yes. We walk through and sometimes, you know, you're work on something and all of a sudden we stop and say my God -- you know, when we were making the movie and we were engrossed, we'd kind of -- sometimes we'd get in a trance, and think: "Gee" -- you know, it hit us -- "we're making a movie with Stanley Kubrick, both of us, at this time in our life."
Q: But when you're doing every film, isn't every film -- when you were doing "Jerry Maguire," or you were doing "Top Gun," at the moment you're doing it, you're giving it the same 100 percent you gave "Eyes Wide Shut" or you gave "Risky Business," right?
Q: You can't approach anything three-quarter way, right?
Cruise: No, I can't. But this role in particular -- very challenging role to play. I mean, they're all ... .
Q: Got more involved than in any other role?
Cruise: Well, you can't help it. I mean, you're working for 14 months on this shooting, and it was Stanley, and the scenes, and I think the nature of the material -- I'm just glad that Nic and I weren't asked to make this movie the first year in our relationship.
Q: Would it have worked?
Cruise: I don't know. It would have been different. I believe in us, and I believe in her, but it would have been, I think, much more difficult. There were times where you didn't want to take it home, but there were times that it just was there, you know.
Making the marriage work
Q: Why has this marriage worked so well? As Tony Curtis told us the other night, it's almost impossible for two people in the same profession to make it work in this environment, almost impossible. Well, you're making a movie called "Mission Impossible" you do things impossible, right, Cruise? Right? That's your role.
Cruise: I just set a high standard.
Q: What's the hardest part about it?
Cruise: What is the hardest part about it?
Q: Being apart?
Cruise: Yes, but we haven't been apart that much. We really have set a standard of two weeks to that, you know, no matter where we are, you know, we're going to be together, and then with children ... .
Q: So if you're in Australia, she's in London, you won't go two weeks.
Cruise: I got to fly.
Q: You got to fly. You got to work at getting together.
Cruise: You got to work it. You got to do it. Those hours -- that's difficult. But I think it would be more difficult being without her, and I think what we have is exceptional ... .
Q: It comes through, you know. It does come through.
Q: How did you hear about Stanley's passing? (Stanley Kubrick died of a heart attack on March 7, at age 70.)
Cruise: Stanley's passing, I found out from Leon. I was called in the middle of the night. I was in Australia.
Q: Who called you?
Cruise: Leon. Leon is -- works with Stanley, and he became a good friend of ours, and he's an associate of Stanley. And then two seconds later, Nic was on the phone, and I spoke with Jan Harlan, who is the producer on this movie and his brother Ron. I spoke to Christiane, and then I spoke to ... .
Q: Do you remember your first reaction?
Cruise: Disbelief, absolute disbelief. You know, there's only two people that usually call me in the middle of the night: Stanley or Nic. Those are the people that call me in the middle of the night. So when the phone rang, I was expecting to hear either Stanley or Nic on the other line.
And it was just -- Larry, you know, you've had people in your lives that I'm sure have had a huge impact on you, and you've gone through such -- you know, it was an intense experience for I think all three of us.
Q: It was so final.
Cruise: It was so final, and yet it didn't seem final, even when we were going to the funeral. It's just -- nothing seemed like -- it was almost somewhere where you're there and you're just almost willing it not to be.
Q: Was there any question about going to the funeral?
Q: You took Nicole -- I mean you flew and picked her up.
Cruise: Yes, picked Nic up and then we stayed, and I flew back.
Q: Was it hard to go right back to work?
Cruise: Yes, yes, it was hard, and it was also helpful, because it got my mind -- I was very concerned about Nic, you know, and Christiane's family also. At first, when something like that happens, it's your world that it affects, and then I found myself very concerned for Christiane and also Nic, who was just absolutely devastated and has since not really been able to sit through the movie.
Q: Was he ill?
Cruise: You know, I mean, now you look back and you say, well, what if, if something -- I mean, no, he just ... .
Q: Did he have any heart problems, to your knowledge?
Cruise: You know, he -- the man worked hard. I'd get faxes from him at three o'clock in the morning, you know, and Christiane was there, and, you know, he just didn't discuss that, you know. He didn't -- it was sudden. It was like it was a shock. It was no one said, oh, that was expected, especially after a couple of days after talking to him and ... .
Q: You're that kind of worker, though, aren't you? You're a very hard worker.
Cruise: Yes, to me, it's not work. You know, I can't help it. If I'm interested in something, I just ... .
Q: Can you explain, Tom. We've talked before, but I don't think I've ever asked you -- would you explain ... .
Cruise: I'll try. I'll try, man.
Q: ... why you like being someone else? Why did you like being a vampire? Why do you like being an agent? Why do you like being a kid in Chicago? Why do you like being in an airplane? Why do you like driving a race car? Why do you like being a powerful ... .
Cruise: Don't ask me such difficult questions, Larry.
Q: Why? A chance to not be yourself?
Cruise: I don't know. I think, you know, a form of creativity, of expression, of understanding that way of life, the adventure of it, the power of it.
Q: Children do it, right?
Cruise: Yes, they play-act. And, you know, my kids do it. You know, they want me to be the big bad wolf, and then when I get too frightening, it's like, "Oh, no, no, don't get so frightening. No, you're a good big bad wolf."
Q: When you're doing it, are you Tom Cruise doing it, or are you "it?"
Cruise: You bring aspects of your own personality, and you're exploring and creating another kind of character. You find out things about yourself. Things that you like maybe, things you don't like. There's a challenge, and it's -- maybe it's going to sound -- it's the pleasure in the moment. It's not releasing movies. I actually don't really enjoy the aspect, the point of releasing a movie. I enjoy ....
Q: Doing it?
Cruise: I enjoy the process of working on it. I enjoy the process of working with another actor, working with the director and all of a sudden that moment where it comes alive, that moment where the indescribable, the unthinkable or the unimaginable occurs, and it's those little moments that happen that surprise you about yourself, about the other performer. That's exciting. And you're learning. You know, you learn about other people's lives. And, you know, I'm enjoying, you know, working with (director John) Woo now on "Mission Impossible II."
Q: What's he like?
Cruise: He's wonderful.
Q: He's wild, though, isn't he?
Cruise: No, he's very -- "wild" I mean -- his movies are balletic. His action sequences are balletic and filled with -- he imbues it with an emotion, his action scenes, very unique way. But, in some ways, you know, it's great to have that as, you know -- these are -- I don't know. Maybe it's because I grew up, my parents took me to movies; I went to movies.
Q: Where were ... .
Cruise: They'd take me to art museums.
Q: What city?
Cruise: All over. All over. I lived in Kentucky a couple of times. New Jersey a couple of times, St. Louis, Cincinnati. We traveled all the times when I was a ... .
Q: So you were a kid on Saturday afternoon, who was ... .
Cruise: No, I was a kid on Saturday afternoon -- I was a kid my parents would take us at night. I was kid, you know, during the holidays, and cutting the grass and wanting to go to the movies. And, you know, they would take us to some theater and museums and, you know, try and challenge us.
And I don't know. I got lost in movies. And I would watch, you know, "Creature Feature" on Friday nights, and so my fascination with it -- I get the live out these fantasies.
Q: Is every good actor bright? Have you found that to be true?
Cruise: Yes, yes. The great ones.
Q: You have to be bright to be really ... .
Cruise: Yes, yes. You have to have insight and understanding.
Q: Ever want to do stage?
Cruise: Yes. Yes, I would.
Q: Why not? I mean, I know it's a cut in pay, Tom. I mean, they can't -- but would you like to do the same play, six months, Broadway theater?
Cruise: Not six months.
Q: Limited run?
Cruise: Yes. Yes, I will do that actually.
Q: You will?
Cruise: I will do that in the next few years. Sure. Yes, yes.
Q: A play ... .
Cruise: But not six months.
Q: Do you want to do like a Mamet classic or ... .
Cruise: I don't know. I don't know. You know, I've talked about it for years. I've looked at it. You know, it was fun living, you know, vicariously through Nic when she was doing the play.
Q: "Blue Room."
Cruise: Oh, it was great. It was amazing.
Q: Did you go watch her a lot?
Cruise: Yes. Yes, I'd go watch her a lot.
Q: Was that weird?
Being Mr. Kidman
Cruise: It was wonderful. It was wonderful for me, because, you know, the pressure -- it's also -- it's easier sometimes, you know. What's nice sometimes is she's off working and you can -- you know, you're hearing the stories. You're going through it. You're watching her work on a character and develop it. And I know her work and I know what she -- and her process. So it's fun for me, because there's no pressure, you know? So you can just be in there going, "Oh... ."
Q: Oh, yes.
Cruise: And I enjoy that.
Q: You root for each other.
Cruise: Yes. And I enjoy being married to Nic because she just is a fascinating woman and always incredibly generous and creative in her life.
Q: Terrific lady.
Cruise: Yes. She's very ... .
Q: You're very lucky. That's luck.
Q: (Laughs) God looked down and said: "I like you, Cruise; I'm going to do this for you."
Cruise: But don't tell her. When you interview her, say how lucky she is.
Q: You know what they do. You know, it goes to their head.
Projects and prospects
Q: A couple of other quick things.
Q: Do you like this flying from Australia, in this kind of scene, opening, back out? When this is playing, you're back in Australia shooting again.
Cruise: Yes. I'd rather be working when the movies open. I don't want to sit at home, and you know, wonder. I'd rather be out there ... .
Q: How do you think "Eyes Wide Shut" is going to do?
Cruise: I have no idea. I have absolutely ... .
Q: We've all seen the trades, and they've been raves -- to this point.
Cruise: I have no idea. I really don't.
Q: Will young people go see it?
Cruise: I don't know.
Q: They're your audience, a lot of them, right? I mean, young people -- well, all ages.
Cruise: I don't know. You know, I mean, each movie, you know, you just work to try to have that movie find its audience, and I think that every movie is different. And I think that -- I don't know how it's going to do. I really don't.
Q: You care a lot, right?
Cruise: Yes, yes, I care a lot. It's strange because I can't distance myself from the experience because it's still so fresh, and also because it's -- it's Stanley.
Q: Boy, he made some impression on you.
Cruise: Yes, he did. He did. I loved him. You know, I love him.
Q: If the movie goes poorly, is it like a candidate losing an election?
Cruise: Well, I've never been a candidate. How do they feel after that? They're pretty devastated.
Hits and bombs
Q: Have you ever had a movie bomb?
Cruise: No. I've never had a movie just totally bomb.
Q: Do consider yourself that lucky?
Q: Have you ever turned down a role you regretted?
Cruise: No. No, I haven't.
Q: Ever done a role you're sorry you did?
Cruise: No, no. No, and I don't say that. I mean, there's roles that I have accomplished -- haven't fully accomplished ... .
Q: Could have done better?
Cruise: Well, that I felt that at times maybe the picture could have done better or somewhere I missed something, but I don't take it and beat myself up about it. I try to understand it and learn from it and then use that in the future. Tomorrow for me is always ... .
Hollywood and violence
Q: There's been quite an attack, as you know, about violence and movies and with the occurrences in Littleton (Colorado, the shootings at Columbine High School). What do you think of your own industry's responsibility?
Cruise: I think it's ridiculous to blame it on Hollywood. There's always been violence in movies, all the way back to Jimmy Cagney. It's always been pushing the envelope.
You've got to take it on a movie-by-movie basis. But I think it is ridiculous to attack the movie industry as a whole and say that that's the reason -- I mean, come on. You know? Let's look at education. Let's spend more money on education. Let's educate people. Let's look at gun laws. I've watched violent movies. I enjoy watching violent movies. I enjoy watching all different kinds of movies. I am not a violent person. I have never gone and done those kinds of things.
On the other hand with my children, there's certain things that I won't let them watch, that I will not allow them to watch. It's a much more complex issue than to say, "This is Hollywood's fault" or "They're responsible." It's an easy shuffle. You know, it's an easy way to go. I think it's a much easier way to go, because the truth of it is that it's a number of elements.
Q: To your knowledge, has film ever inspired you to do anything particularly?
Cruise: Films have inspired me to want to make movies. When I saw "2001" (1969) -- when I see that, there's times I wanted to be an astronaut. But I grew up watching "Creature Feature" also. I didn't want to be a werewolf. But I enjoy the safety of a theater and a movie to be terrified or to experience something. That's important to have. But I also think, it shouldn't be available to everyone.
'Mission Impossible II'
Q: Is "Mission Impossible" (the sequel) going to be as complicated as the first one?
Cruise: Oh, it's going to be more complicated.
Q: More complicated? That's good news.
Cruise: I have set out, and I want it to be much more complicated.
Q: So we have to bring our computers. Who's evil? Who's bad? Who's good?
Cruise: Absolutely. And there will be a test afterward.
Q: Who's the villain in this movie?
Cruise: Yes, we're going give (an) IQ test.
Q: Can you tell us who the villain is? Do we know? -- because the villain was the shock in the first one. Jon Voight as a villain?
Q: Who's the villain in "Mission Impossible II?"
Cruise: Don't you want to wait? Don't you want to wait? Why? Why? Why? It's much more fun.
Q: You're the villain. You turn, a CIA agent ... .
Cruise: It's much more complex than that. It's much more complex than that.
Q: Do you see scripts all the time?
Q: Are you a pretty good judge?
Cruise: Look at my career and say what you think. I think I am a pretty good judge.
Q: So if you turned down something that was a hit, you wouldn't say, "I made a mistake." It wasn't for you.
Cruise: No, I don't feel that way.
Q: Want to work with Nicole again?
Cruise: Oh, absolutely, absolutely, yes, definitely.
Q: When you had the nomination for "Jerry Maguire," did you expect to win?
Cruise: No, I never expect to win.
Q: I mean, when you're sitting there and they're opening the envelope.
Cruise: No, I didn't. I didn't expect to win.
Q: Do you expect a nomination for this?
Q: You should. You don't?
Cruise: I mean, how do you expect something? I mean, I don't -- I can't judge that stuff. What I'm not good at judging is how much a movie is going to make, how critics and Academy things are going to swing. Some people are very good at that, and they can predict. And I remember you saying Cuba (Gooding, Jr.) is going to win the Academy Award (for best supporting actor), and ... .
Q: I told you.
Cruise: ... and, you know, the nominations. I don't know. Maybe I'm just not good at that.
Q: Have you ever had a critic help you, a critic write something where you could say, "He's right, I should have done it?"
Cruise: Yes, I've had critical support. One of the things that deeply affected Nicole and I (was) what happened to Gene Siskel and then Stanley, and I feel for his wife -- they're people that you just see sitting around at a restaurant. (Critic Gene Siskel of "Siskel and Ebert" died February 20 at age 53.)
Q: You're not a critic of critics?
Cruise: No, no, no. They have their opinions. But there have been critics that have really come out and supported me and have been there throughout my career. But that's the great thing. People have opinions. Some people hate things. Some people love them. That's what movies are about.
Q: You don't get angry when you read a rap?
Cruise: Not really. Sometimes -- if it's really outrageous -- I might get pissed off and say, "Well, this guy doesn't know what the ..." But also that's what movies are about. That's what it's all about.
Q: Can you yourself doing this when you're 75?
Cruise: If they'll have me there, I'll be there.
Review: 'Eyes Wide Shut' - All undressed with no place to go
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