It was never just about being in front of the camera, but being a fervent student of cinema for Tom Cruise.
The 3x Oscar nominee sat down for a rare public interview at the Cannes Film Festival; the actor here today for the international launch of Top Gun: Maverick debuting tonight at the Palais.
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While Cruise has produced his own movies starting with 1996’s Mission: Impossible, his obsession with all departments of feature filmmaking goes back to his first role on Taps when he was 18, which was a formative experience.
“I went to every single department and studied every single department,” said Cruise.. And for the very reason “if I don’t make another movie again.”
“My film school was on film sets,” he added.
“I’m on Taps and here’s George C. Scott and we’re talking about Patton. He’s telling me about Dr. Strangelove. I didn’t want to hear the gossip, but them work and how it translates to cinema,” added Cruise.
The actor shared a story about how Harold Becker would have him watch dailies at the end of the day.
“He showed me, ‘These takes are in the movie’ and they were. He showed me other actors’ performances. It was great to see George C. Scott and the lens; seeing the different place the lighting contributed to different ideas. His performance, the wardrobe, all these things are constantly a life progression. I’m still experiencing how to take this art form and push it,” said Cruise.
And when it comes to making a movie, it’s not just about opening weekend for Cruise “but for the distance.”
“You hope you make a movie that going to entertain and engage an audience down the line. I want this experience not just for myself, but for others who want the experience.”
Speaking on how he travels aggressively around the world to tubthump his movies, Cruise said, “I wanted to watch movie with them”, meaning seeing them with an offshore crowd. “What movies do they like? Does the movie translate to them?”
Asked about doing his own stunts, particularly in the Mission: Impossible movies, Cruise responded, “No one asked Gene Kelly ‘Why do you dance?'”
“I wanted to push the art form,” he said about doing his own stunts, “How can I immerse an audience into this kind of action? How can I entertain them?”
It’s all a part of relishing all parts of life: Cruise parachutes, he’s an aerobatic pilot, “I take dance and singing lessons.”
Asked whether Top Gun Maverick was ever expected to go to streaming during the pandemic, Cruise exclaimed, “No, that’s not going to happen ever” which triggered great applause. “That was never going to happen.”
One of the creeds he lives by: “Even if you fail, try to walk away and ask ‘What have I learned.’ It’s always better to try and not do it. Ask the question,” he continued.
“If someone looks at you for being dumb or arrogant, I have a rule with everyone. You can ask anything on the movie. I never make less of someone for that,” he added about paying forward the 360 educational experiences he had on his films sets to those around him.
Top Gun: Maverick has been on a massive worldwide tour, launching with great fanfare as a sneak screening at CinemaCon in Las Vegas at the end of April, then a San Diego world premiere at the naval base. The film is here at Cannes tonight to kick off its international tour. The pic is expected to open to $75M to $100M over four days domestic at the Memorial Day box office. In short, it would not come as a shock if Top Gun: Maverick opens to Cruise’s biggest opening ever besting The Mummy ($169.3M).
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