The secret to being Tom Cruise? Three days of chocolate cake

Stuart Heritage
·4 min read

Tom Cruise is arguably the most intimidating movie star in existence. He’s less a human being and more a physical manifestation of human willpower. He does his own stunts. He flies his own planes. Back when everyone was worried that Covid would permanently bring the world to its knees, he offered hope; first by driving an actual motorbike off a literal cliff to prove to the world that no virus could stop him from doing loads of knuckleheaded stunts, and second by screaming blue murder at his crew whenever they got closer than two metres to each other.

Tom Cruise (dot in centre) rides a motorbike off a ramp at the top of a Norwegian cliff last September, while filming the next Mission Impossible movie.
Tom Cruise (dot in centre) rides a motorbike off a ramp at the top of a Norwegian cliff last September, while filming the next Mission Impossible movie. Photograph: Geir Olsen/NTB Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

But it turns out that this clench-jawed sense of determination has always been there. On the Graham Norton Show last week, Cruise revealed that during the filming of 1983’s The Outsiders, he once ate so much chocolate cake for such an extended period of time that he ended up vomiting.

“I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to eat chocolate cake in this scene,” Cruise told Norton. “I thought, because I had to do it in the scene, it’s part of the character, I’m going to eat chocolate cake. We ended up shooting this scene for three days, we did like 100 takes of me eating chocolate cake, and I had to keep eating it. Three days of Francis [Ford Coppola] saying, ‘Let’s do it again.’ I was in sugar shock, I was vomiting.”

You see? This is the fire in which Tom Cruise was forged. This is what he will go through to serve his art. Other actors might have chosen something less rich to eat for the scene. Other actors might have done that thing where they just push their food around their plate with their fork without it ever going near their mouths. But not Tom Cruise. Oh no. Cruise will go that extra step to achieve perfection. And it turns out that, in this case, that extra step involves eating quite a lot of chocolate cake.

Now it all makes sense. Last year it emerged that Cruise likes to send people the most amazing cake in the world, a decadent white chocolate coconut bundt, as a Christmas gift. I know this because I am one quarter through a year-long quest to somehow score one of these cakes for myself. But now everything has clicked together. There’s a reason why he sends cakes.

Tom Cruise on last week’s Graham Norton Show.
Gifter … Tom Cruise on last week’s Graham Norton Show. Photograph: Matt Crossick/PA

Because you’d think that Cruise would want to send something a little Tom Cruise-ier as a gift. Flying lessons, maybe, or running shoes, or just a gift-wrapped bucket of his own sweat. But no. He sends a cake. That cake is a message. It says: “I once ate a cake like this, and I threw up all over the place, and it made me the man I am now.” It says: “You too can be like me.” It says: “I want you to eat this cake as fast as you can, and then vomit your lungs up into a wire waste-paper basket.”

When James Corden gets sent one of these cakes – or Kirsten Dunst, or Henry Cavill – they must know the drill. Cruise wants these people to achieve greatness the same way he achieved it, by wolfing down a cake then becoming violently ill.

That said, this might be one of the few instances where I am not intimidated by Cruise. Can I climb up a skyscraper? No. Can I ride a motorbike? No. Can I run with any real conviction whatsoever? No. But can I eat cake? You’re goddamned right I can eat cake. I can eat cake like it’s going out of fashion. Poor little Tom Cruise had to stop eating cake after three days. I, meanwhile, could spend five or six days solidly eating cake. I’d eat it in bed. I’d eat it on the toilet. I could out-cake Tom Cruise in a heartbeat.

I know you’re reading this, Tom, so please accept my challenge. Send me a cake at Christmas, and I’ll eat the whole thing, in one go, on the toilet, on Instagram Live. This is my promise.