Tom Cruise has been one of the biggest movie stars in the world for more than 30 years. From his star-making role in 1983's Risky Business to his more recent films like 2018's Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the actor has worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of producers, directors, writers, co-stars, and crew members.
And, as has been the case with other famous actors, many people have told their stories about what it was like to work and/or just hang out with Cruise. Perhaps not surprisingly given the length of his career, some people have had very positive experiences dealing with the actor, while others have not.
Below are just some of those stories about dealing with Tom Cruise on and off the set.
- Photo: Warner Bros.13,202 VOTES
Kirsten Dunst was just 11 years old when she auditioned for the role that would be her first big break - Claudia in Interview with the Vampire.
In an episode of Netflix's show The Playback, Dunst talked about how the audition process for the film included having to do a scene with Tom Cruise:
I remember I was the tallest of all the young girls [who were auditioning]. [Tom] had to pick each one of us up and carry us around. Just to see how we looked against Tom, and who looked the most childlike I guess. And I remember Tom whispering to me, “Tuck your legs under” so I looked as tiny as possible because I was the tallest girl... So I knew he was kind of rooting for me, and we were both from New Jersey. And I think he was like “let this Jersey girl have it.”
- Photo: A Few Good Men / Columbia Pictures24,331 VOTES
Kevin Pollak worked with Tom Cruise on the 1992 film A Few Good Men, portraying Lt. Sam Weinberg, an Army lawyer. During a 2015 appearance on theCHIVE podcast, Pollak told a story about how Cruise gifted him a very expensive item just a handful of days after meeting him:
I show up for rehearsal for A Few Good Men and I’m freaking out. You know, there's Tom Cruise, there's Demi Moore, the three of us are going to rehearse our scenes. But the moment I arrive, giant movie star Tom Cruise treats me like an equal.
So I see him making a note in his script, and he's using this pen. This is not a Mont Blanc - this is like Mont Blanc on steroids. It's a ridiculous giant - the kind of pen you want a movie star to use. So I go up to him and say, “Hey, Tom, they don’t make a bigger pen? Really? I bet we could find one. C'mon.” And he laughs, y'know. So I'm busting his balls the whole f***ing day about this pen. Every chance I get, I'm giving giant movie star Tom Cruise s**t about his stupid pen. At the end of the day he goes, “Yeah yeah. Yeah. Funny. Write with it.” And he hands it to me. And I grab it out of his hand and go, “What’s the big f***ing deal, Tom? It's a pen.” And I start writing with it and I go, “Oh s**t.” It's like an angel wing floating on a cloud. It was a magical pen. The suspension system and the ballpoint and whatever… It was an insane f***ing pen.
Pollack added that when Moore saw Pollak's reaction, she became interested in finding out more about the pen:
[We found out that] this pen is available in one store in the United States. It was made in Paris, France, and it was available at Barney's in New York. And the pen cost $500. To me, that's the exact number that tells me that I will never own this f****ing pen… So 10 days or so later we're shooting the film… [There's a] knock on the door… open it up, there's Tom's assistant. He hands me a wrapped gift. I open it up, it's one of these f***ing pens. And it's in this teak triangle, rectangle box. Crazy. And I go to Tom's trailer and I go, “What the f***?!” And he goes, “you love the pen, right?” And I say, “Yeah, but Tom, I’ve known you like 10 days. You should talk to somebody, this isn't right.” He goes, “No, no, you love the pen.”
Later that day, Pollak was making a note in his script - with a different pen - when Cruise spotted him:
He goes, “Kev, where’s the pen?” I say, “Oh, Tom. I can’t use the pen. No, the pen goes on the mantle in my house. People come over to my house and I point to the pen with my hand, I gesture to it and I tell people the story about the pen. It'll be the greatest f***ing pen story they'll ever f***ing hear. Tom, I use the pen… I might lose the pen, and that can never f***ing happen!”
He laughs, he's gets it, but then I notice he's sort of crestfallen. So I swear to you, six days later I'm sitting on my *ss in the trailer. Knock on the trailer door, I open it up, there's Tom's assistant. Hands me this wrapped gift and says, “Tom wants you to use the other pen.” That's not multimillionaire movie star Tom Cruise showing off. That was his way of saying, “I get it. You’ve made your point. Now use this f***ing pen!”
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
In the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, Jonathan Lipnicki portrayed Ray, the young son of Renée Zellweger's character. But as Cameron Crowe, the film's writer/director, explained in an interview with Deadline, a different young actor was the first choice for the role:
We saw a lot of people, and I fell in love with a young actor from Seattle who reminded me of some real kids I’d known. My one thing I told [casting director] Gail Levin was, we can’t have a McDonald’s commercial kid in this part. I need a real kid who is suffering without a father, who sometimes is not the happiest kid in the world. We hired this young actor, spent two or three weeks filming with him. Late one night, we were doing a two-shot where Tom comes over drunk to Renée’s apartment, and he confides in the kid. And the kid just kind of ran out of gas and announced to the room, “I don’t want to do this.” There was such simple conviction in the way this young man said he didn’t want to do this that we knew we had to replace him. That he was not born for the silver screen, at all. Tom understood it and was great about it.
So they went back to auditioning kids for the part and ending up casting Lipnicki. A few weeks later, Crowe received a phone call from the mother of the young actor who had decided against being in the film:
I got on the phone and she says, “Will you please tell Tom Cruise thank you for the way he has kept in touch with my son, sent him letters and gifts, and just let him know all is well?” I thought, “Wow, I had no idea Tom Cruise was doing that.” She said, “It really helped my son. He’s over it now, he’s fine, and Tom did a beautiful job helping him transition back to his life.”
I went to Tom, later, and said, “You quietly helped this kid through what could have been a terrible transition. Thank you, but why did you never tell any of us?” Tom said, “I just didn’t want that first actor to go to the movies, look at the screen and think he’d failed. I wanted him to love movies his entire life.” That is the quiet way Tom Cruise conducts his professional life.
- Photo: Universal Pictures44,954 VOTES
Cruise Whipped Jake Johnson Into Shape For His Role In 'The Mummy'
Jake Johnson appeared alongside Tom Cruise in the 2017 film The Mummy. The New Girl star portrayed Chris Vail, a US army corporal, while Cruise played his friend and former Army sergeant Nick Morton. Johnson, who had little experience working on an action film prior to The Mummy, told Thrillist that while he was flattered that the role had been written with him in mind, he had his doubts about working with Cruise:
I panicked! I know his [reputation]. He does his own stunts. I read the first act [of the movie] and it’s like, ”Nick and Vail jump off a three-story building as it explodes, they feel the heat on their backs." And when you read those little things somebody has to actually do that. That meant the fire would be touching us! That meant I was jumping through fire and I was like, “I don’t want to jump through fire!”
But he flew to London to meet with Cruise, who talked Johnson into taking the role. The movie star ended up working with Johnson to get the younger actor in shape for the production:
Tom said, “I really want you fit for this movie.” I literally thought I was going to have to call [New Girl actor] Max Greenfield to do CrossFit. But Tom said, “You’ll be training with me and my trainers. If you want I’ll put you on a food plan with my chef. The food is great…” He [also] said I could use his gym whenever I wanted.
One day I got to work to work out and one of the [assistant directors] goes, “You can’t go in right now because Tom is working out.” I thought, “That sucks, I got here an hour early to get this in, but he’s Tom Cruise.” After, when we were shooting later that day, he said, “What happened to you? I thought you said you were going to work out this morning?” I told him I was told not to bother him and he got really pissed. He said, “Let me make something crystal clear: I don’t care what anybody on the crew says to you, they don’t know what I’m saying to you. And I’m saying to you that you are always welcome. I don’t care what I’m doing in there. You’re not other. You’re my castmate. Come in.”
- Photo: Tropic Thunder / DreamWorks Pictures54,796 VOTES
Tom Cruise and Bill Hader worked together on the 2008 action-comedy Tropic Thunder. The two actors were in Los Angeles to reprise their Tropic Thunder characters in promos for the 2010 MTV Movie Awards when Hader learned some frightening news that made him desperate to get back to his family in New York.
In a 2012 interview with Vulture, Hader remembered:
I hear a crew person say, “Did you hear what happened in New York?” And I’m like, “What happened?” “A guy tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square.”
A panicked Hader, who was a new dad, desperately tried to get a hold of his wife back in New York. When Cruise noticed Hader's reaction and asked what was the matter, Hader explained how he was trying to find out if his family was okay. Cruise then learned that the other actor wasn't due to go back to New York for two more days:
[Tom] thinks for a second. “No. We’ll get you home tonight.” And in that moment, Tom Cruise, [as his Tropic Thunder character Les Grossman], in a karate gi, began to direct all my coverage [for the MTV promos]. All my footage, all my close-ups. Boom! We do three perfect takes. Boom, boom, boom. Everyone’s chest-butting each other, some people are chest-butting themselves, people are going insane.
Once the promos were filmed, Cruise's then-wife Katie Holmes handed Hader a piece of paper with his new flight information, telling him he was on a red-eye flight to New York that night.
The SNL comedian and actor explained to Vulture that because of Cruise's quick action, he was back home with his wife and baby daughter early the next day. He told the interviewer, “So that’s what it’s like to work with Tom Cruise.”
- Photo: Mission: Impossible - Fallout / Paramount Pictures
Tom Cruise has a major sweet tooth. But as he explained during a 2018 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden with his Mission: Impossible - Fallout co-star Angela Bassett, sugar is a no-no in his training routine when he's preparing for a film.
So instead of eating sweets himself, he sends the crew members and other actors desserts and lives vicariously through them: "I wait for the calls," Cruise told the talk show host. "Like, tell me about it [how the desserts tasted]."
Bassett admitted that she was more than happy to eat the cake that Cruise sent her. On a separate appearance on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, the actress spoke about how well Cruise treated her on set:
As soon as you show up to the set, he looks at you… He lights up for you and gives you the biggest, warmest embrace. He makes sure that you're taken care of, everything that you need. If it's cold - and it was frigid - he makes sure that you're warm. They blow two heaters at you… two heaters. Bring those heaters in! Blow that heat on her!… He's not playing. “Get that woman some comfort!”
Cruise also sent Corden a chocolate cake on the day of the 2018 Grammys (which Corden hosted) to wish him luck. As he recalled this incident during Cruise and Bassett's appearance, Corden jokingly told Cruise:
This is how you look so good. You make everyone around you fat.