Interview with Tom Cruise

Taking a break from sofa hopping, Tom Cruise talks about new war movie “Valkyrie”

He may not be jumping on sofas to say it anymore but Tom Cruise insists he still has plenty to shout about his love for Katie Holmes.

Tom appears on screen in Valkyrie this weekend, a film that tells the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg one of a group of high-ranking German officers who hatched a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and seize power of the military command in order to end the war.

Cruise recently appeared on screen in comedy ‘Tropic Thunder’, which saw Tom play a fat, bald and dancing Hollywood producer, a role he took as a favour to friend Ben Stiller. Yet it is for this role that he finds himself a contender for the upcoming awards season.


Q: How do you feel about the gap between who you are and the way the media misperceives you?
TC: “Yeah, you try to bridge that gap. Sometimes you can’t spend your day trying to bridge that gap. I’ve always had to deal with that. Certainly it’s been accelerated, because, just the way the media and the Internet is. Right from the beginning with Risky Business, I remember talking with Paul Newman, he said to me, ‘Look, you’ve just got to live your life the best you can.’ But look, I’ve got to prioritise because I have a family. I have a life. You have to just adjust. The basics of what I do, making movies and my love of film, that hasn’t changed. It’s just grown.”

Q: What about the way the media put out the story about your problems filming Valkyrie in Germany, and the way it was overblown?

TC: “It’s a great headline. But like the film, it wasn’t everyone. You know, we had an outpouring of warmth and excitement about the film there and about me and my family being there. We had a great experience in Berlin. You know, the government partially financed the film. At the end of shooting, I received a wonderful award, called the Bambi, for courage in bringing this story to the screen. This was a very sensitive subject there that needed to be dealt with in a proper and respectful manner. It’s a time I know we’ll never forget.”


Q: What does this WWII movie have to say about today?
TC: “I read the script, and I just thought, this is an incredible suspense thriller. I put it down and said, ‘Is this really true? Did this reallyhappen? These were cool moments, but they actually happened, they’re in no way just movie conventions. When you’re looking at a story like this, I think it’s timeless, really. In movies, we try to create the bad guys. I just love those stories of little fish swimming upstream, against insurmountable odds. And for me also, I grew up wanting to kill Hitler!”

Q: Really?
TC: “I did. You know, I hate these tyrants. As a little kid, when I was four-years-old, I remember I saw these war documentaries, like World At War. I remember thinking about Hitler, why didn’t somebody just kill that guy. Being a guy who enjoys reading about history and knowing about it, I found this story to be engrossing. It gave me some relief to know that it wasn’t everyone who was evil in Germany back then. I think we know instinctually as human beings, that it can’t possibly have been everyone. Even in high command there is someone like my character, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, and a Resistance, who opposed it. So that did give me some relief. And I found it to be really inspiring that in movies we try to create these things, but this really happened.”

Q: What was the strangest part about making Valkyrie?
TC: “When I put on the Nazi uniform, it was freaky. We had an authentic uniform. All us, when we see that uniform, go nuts. But my character wasn’t actually a Nazi. He wasn’t in that party. He actually despised that ideology, and those people.”

Q: How did you find wearing that eye patch for the whole movie?
TC: “Yeah, for a few days, I was disoriented with that eye patch. You want to have a movie feel authentic, because then it emotionally invests the audience in it. I think that Bryan Singer had a really original and cool way to tell this story.”

Q: The man you play was unbelievably heroic. Do you think you could rise to an occasion like that in real life, and be that courageous?
TC: “I would like to think that I would. I think we all feel that way. These men were under incredible pressure, they couldn’t even tell their kids about their feelings. As a father, that’s something that struck me to the core because I have an incredible relationship with my children. We’re able to discuss anything and everything. I always try and encourage them to think for yourself – that no matter what people are saying or what images are coming at you. I’ve always looked for, and been encouraged to, think for myself as an individual and not just going with the crowd. That’s not how that society was back then. People weren’t thinking for themselves. People weren’t standing up to this insanity and tyranny.”


Q: This is a long way from your weird character in Tropic Thunder. What made you go for that role?
TC: “I thought, ‘Oh man, this is a character that I just have to play.’ I phoned Ben and just said I would do it but I’ve got to have fat hands, and I want to dance!'”

Q: Were you surprised to get a Golden Globe nomination for that role?
TC: “Very surprised. It’s a nice surprise but totally unexpected.”

Q: Did you ever go home to Katie in that outfit?
TC: “No but she was there on set. She was very impressed. She always wanted Les to come home (laughs). I just told her, ‘This is me in five years. Do
you still love me?'”

Q: Where are those hands now?
TC: “Well I actually had a pair sent to Ben’s (Stiller) office. I put them in a glass box, and I made a pair for myself too, right when we finished shooting. I contacted him in the middle of the night when I was working on Valkyrie, and he was in Hawaii.”

Q: But why the dancing?
TC: “I don’t know (laughs). It was just fun. You just get these creative ideas.”

Q: What a long way from the dance in Risky Business, a few decades ago.
TC: “What a difference, yeah! Styles have changed.”

Q: What’s it like having a kid of yours following in your footsteps for ‘Seven Pounds’?
TC: “I have a story about that. When Connor auditioned, the director said, ‘Okay guys, get out!’ So Will and I were standing out in the hall, like expectant parents. Like what is taking this guy so long! But it was really fun.”


Q: You have been making movies for 25 years now. Does it seem that long?
TC: “Sometimes it feels like I started out just yesterday. Other times it does seem like a long time. But, yeah , I’ve made a lot of movies.”


Valkyrie is at Irish cinemas from January 23rd