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Tom Cruise - Movie Star or Celebrity Target?

TomCruise.jpgWith the build up to the movie release of Mission Impossible III (review) there's been press saturation galore on Tom Cruise, but not so much for the film itself. We've heard about his girlfriend, their baby, his scientology beliefs, and a million and one other things about his personal life. The press continue to focus on the man and his personal life and ignore the movie star, the actor.

Something Cruise himself does exceedingly well is to separate the movie star from his personal life. We can watch him on TV openly discussing his new found love, life, and personal beliefs, and the next day we see him spending a reported four hours outside the Premiere of M:I:III to work the crowd.

Despite having a new born child he comes to the premiere of his new film, not just to create headlines, but to stand and give the actual fans of the movie star Tom Cruise what they want, and what they want are his autograph, his voice recorded on their answering machine, a few words with their friend or mother, a quick photograph, and above all a moment with one of the biggest stars there is in Hollywood. Is that all bad? Does he deserve such bad press?

Without a doubt Cruise is working this crowd to get headlines to promote his new film, but he doesn't have to spend four hours to do that, this is something he's doing for fans, not press or critics, the people who pay to see him on screen, the people who elavated him to this huge status, the people who pay to see each of his films.

Yet all through the press there's negativity galore, picking up on his personal life, preferring to make a big deal about him not attending a press conference because he took his other children shopping for baby presents. Shouldn't we be looking to that model of a Father and praising it? Shouldn't we be accepting the fact that he didn't turn up for the conference and writing about something else?

For me there's always been a clear line. I'm not about gossip of celebrities private lives unless it relates directly to a film. Yet everywhere you turn there's the obsession with revealing the private life of a star and after building them so high, we seem intent on dragging them back down.

I think we should take an example from Cruise himself and separate that person from movie star. If the fans pay to see a film star again and again and help elevate them to such a high status, shouldn't we celebrate that fact and not try to tear them down? Shouldn't we look differently on their private life and their movie star life and hang on to these stars we've created? After all, how many of the big movies stars do we have that will spend four hours with true fans making them happy, giving them what they want, days after becoming a Father for the first time? Would the takings of M:I:III be so badly affected if Cruise had stayed at home?

I prefer to look at Cruise the star and respect what he has achieved, where he has come to, and what films he is, and has been, involved with. Sure there are a fair number of not so good films, there are periods of time where he's settled into his character and just coasted along. Then there are the Taps, The Color of Money, Born on the Fourth of July, Eyes Wide Shut, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Magnolia, Vanilla Sky, The Last Samurai and Collateral roles to name but a few. Then there are his production nods for such coming movies as The Eye.

When I think of films I don't see the sofa leaping, strong and outspoken Cruise. I see the fantastic movie star that spends so much time making happy the very fans who pay to see his movies and give him that huge title, a status which is so missing in Hollywood these days because we prefer to darken and tarnish what we have paid so much to lift and shine up. Shouldn't we celebrate the movie stars we create?





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Comments

Nice piece Richard. Great topic.

Firstly, I must state that I am a huge fan of Tom Cruise "the actor". I find him a fine performer and an extremely unique talent in the scope of his peers. His performances rarely fall short of satisfying and I really cannot think of another actor who has grown and developed and remained so consistantly popular throughout his career.

But I must say that, in my humble opinion, separating the actor from the personality may not be as altogether simple as we would like to think. It is my belief that if celebrities want to spend millions of dollars on Image Consultancy, PR Rep's, Stylists and Talent Management in order to perpetuate our undying adoration in spite, or because of what they may really be like in person, that we are then entitled to draw our own conclusions based on what we see, be it in rag tabloids or glossy press releases.

Public personalities such as Mr Katie Holmes place their success in the hands of their fans and then not only pursue their success by means of their professional aptitude/ability but by also "spinning" stories, interviews and the media in general in the hope to make us adore the person as much as the portfolio.

In this respect, I think he and most like him must, as a pre-requisite to their success, forsake this separation of talent from public image in order to get ahead. I for one cannot be talked into ignoring his religious beliefs and personal stances on many topics, such as Scientology and Modern Pharmaceuticals, whilst he is on screen trying to "emote". Just the same way as I wouldn't have a Nazi fix my plumbing. (If you'll forgive the bastardised example).

For example take Tom's larger than life mega star persona and then take the likes of say Kevin Spacey. An equally if not more talented actor who seemed to enter into the game of stardom at the beginning of his career. He was accompanied to award ceremonies by pretty women chosen by his PR company to make him seem more masculine and placed himself in the A-list circus a couple of times but now..... Now he's got to be one of the most respected people in Hollywood.... And NOT because we are required to remove ourselves from questions of his sexual orientation or because of his interaction, or lack thereof, with his fanbase. It is because he conducts himself in a way which does not detract from his career so much that he has to pay equal dividends in return by signing autographs for X number of hours to make up for it.

The pendulum swings both ways, and if Tom Cruise wants to be respected and taken more seriously, he's gonna have to stop wearing sunglasses in the bloody rain.

Wow! thats a great article rich and what a response from Rynndar. must admit i "almost" felt out of my depth.

To be moviestar means you(and everything you do) is in the public eye. Some actors could do with laying just a little lower in the limelight.

Tom Cruise is a dick but everytime i watch one of his movies i get my £4.90 admission tickets worth.

Another thought provoking feature.

Personally I don't give two hoots about what goes on behind closed doors, which is where the press want to live. I totally agree with Rynndar's take on with the whole projected image thing, and it's not just limited to film.

So, while Cruise (or any celebrity for that matter) is happy to talk about stuff in his life, that's fine, let the press report it, that's part of the public image. Only when they start rummaging through bins and using zoom lenses from 100 yards away, sorry the line's been well and truly crossed if that happens, as that's an intrusion on the private life.

Using fame to push a belief or a product is nothing new. How many stars are patrons of charities? How many stars are used in adverts? Being used to promote something beyond their immediate job (whether paid or not) does not automatically give the public the right to know the ins and outs of their private life. The ultimate decision with how much of their life is shared with the public must lie with the individual concerned. Some of us expect more, some of us less.

Public image - self promotion, PR, all that jazz is fair game.
Private life - leave them in private.

I have to give you credit Richard. That sort of separation has never been easy for me and I never really credited Cruise for separating interviews where he's a press machine and interviews where he's making an ass of himself... er, giving personal opinions. Now that I think about it you're right - he does do a good job of that.

I blushed when I saw this topic, because I have always loved Tom Cruise since Top Gun, and I have seen him mature as an actor. He is one of the most dedicated actors of his generation, when he is working on anything, you can bet he gives it his absolute best. I remember when he made "Born on the 4th of July", Dale Dye, the guy who acts as technical adviser and supervised the boot camp and also did it later for Saving Private Ryan said in an interview that Tom Cruise is one of the most committed and disciplined actors he has worked with who endured the boot camp under dire conditions, the other actor being another Tom (Hanks). I have never had a problem separating an actor's real life persona and to the work they actually put in. I think this is where he is misunderstood, as every other actor who might also be in this position (another good example is Russell Crowe).

But no, I dont let that affect my appreciation for his talent as an actor, I pay to watch his films and he has yet to disappoint me as an actor, what he does on his private life, that is none of my business, he doesnt owe me anything in that regard. And Richard had it just spot on and I just had to quote him back, "When I think of films I don't see the sofa leaping, strong and outspoken Cruise. I see the fantastic movie star that spends so much time making happy the very fans who pay to see his movies and give him that huge title, a status which is so missing in Hollywood these days because we prefer to darken and tarnish what we have paid so much to lift and shine up".

My exact sentiments, so Mr Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, take a bow. *winks*

I think two different arguments are taking place here.

On the one hand, some people say that they can't look at Tom Cruise on screen and at the same time separate themselves from the person who they have seen criticise things they believe in, support topics to which they are bitterly opposed and literally whore himself to the media because he's "in love".

On the other hand, people say that they respect him as an actor and that they like what he does and are able to separate his beliefs from his work, but these people have yet to say that he has offended them in any way and may well agree with him on many of the topics.

Example; a practicing Scientologist is obviously going to be supportive of his films and not have a problem with his religious beliefs.

But the argument is not based on this.

For people to be honest and say that they can separate the person from the work is a bit naive when the person in question hasn't even offended them. That's a bit of a no-brainer.

The true test of this argument must be set against an actor who had bitterly offended your hardest beliefs and views. Someone who opposes everything you deem important. If you guys could really effortlessly watch someone without worrying who they are, why doesn't Paul Reubens have a job? Why isn't OJ Simpson a successful comedy actor? It's just not realistic.

I don't think people are being as honest as they'd like to be with themselves. A person who thinks Tom Cruise is a "cool guy" is obviously not gonna have a problem watching him on screen and doesn't neccessarily qualify to have an objective viewpoint on this. In practice I think it's easy for people to be principled on this topic but in practice that argument wears thin.

Ask any casting director and they'll be sure to explain that they find it difficult to trust peoples ability to do this. They would make or break a persons career based on this liability.

How about it Simone? If Tom had been convicted of possessing Child Porn like Mr. Reubens would you still be AS interested in seeing him in MI:III?

I think possession of child pornography is at the other end of the spectrum compared to the man airing his beliefs, whether they be right or wrong, offending or not, they are beliefs that he has a right to hold and talk about. We're the ones who need to stop listening if we're offended. Child pornography is at the other end of the spectrum because it is directly harming someone and is illegal.

I've watched Naked Gun again since those trials (where he was equitted) and I don't stop the DVD at OJ's appearance, or zip past them. He's still a funny guy in that movie and I liked his role.

Reubens is different, I've never liked his comedy, and he was found guilty of crimes as far as I remember.

It's perfectly possible to separate the two parts of Tom Cruise, the Hollywood star and the personable beliefs. You just have to walk into that cinema and let yourself enjoy the movie to be able to do that. Those that can't are most likely sitting there reminding themselves of the things the actor has said and believes in outwith the movie and not allowing them to accept the part they are playing.

On screen he's acting, playing a part, and you just have to go along with him for the ride. That's not hard to do.

If, however, you want to make an example of an actor because of what has happened in their personal life then you just don't go to see their films or watch their appearances. That's where the voting happens, and so it's interesting to see that Cruise is still such a huge movie star.

I disagree with many peoples beliefs, particularly religious ones, but do I hold that against them as a person? This is something you do everyday, especially if you work in an organisation which is rife with politics, red tape and egos. You can often totally disagree with people you work alongside with day to day, but you still work with them.

Hi there Rynndar, nice of you to single me out. ;-) Anyway, as for your question, I have to concur with Richard's reply, because I couldnt have said it any better. But let me say a few more things though.

I have my own faith which I do not wish to discuss here and Cruise believes in Scientology. So as a movie fan, what do you expect me to do? Stop watching his films because this actor believes in everything that I dont, that I may have been offended by what he stands for, or for anything he has done? And what it is that he has done really that is deemed objectionable/offensive to you or anybody? And because of that I am not objective? Or I am just being broad minded about it? That's not so bad is it? I like Mr Cruise's work ethics, that's very rare to find in Hollywood and there's something not right about me because I watch his films?

We just have to accept things we can not change and take what is given. If you cant stand a film because Tom Cruise is in it, then dont go see it, but for those who appreciate his talent and still watches his films despite for what he stands for I say leave them be.

Oh, I am watching MI:III again, it's that good! *winks*

I told you this was a good topic!

Whichever end of the spectrum child pornography (or another example of your choice) may sit at; the point I illustrate it this.....

Take two actors of equal talent and repertoire and consider them for the same job/role. Now imagine that one of the aforementioned talents has a criminal record/scandal in the past or questionable beliefs that have been made public domain (Robert Downey Jr./Paul Reubens/Tom Sizemore... take your pick) and imagine a casting agency having to pick between these two actors for the role. Can anyone honestly say that those in the position of either choosing between, or watching, both of these actors can be ABSOLUTELY and UNRESERVEDLY objective in their choice between both actors. I dare say that the guy who carries child porn could be an even more talented actor than the straight shooter, and in a blind test who could prove me wrong?

Again I add that someone doing something illegal as opposed to say swearing all the time is different, but still falls well inside the realms of the person's personal life and of those subject to and involved in the crime, thereby being satisfied by the principal of being able to "separate the life from the job".

And if we indeed are offended then the sensible and practical thing to do IS of course to excercise our right to ignore them, absolutely! But doesn't doing so simply illustrate my point even further? That their off screen personality, beliefs and lifestyle have amended our opinion of them, and that the roles which they choose to portray, based on the personal beliefs which we hold no respect for (Travolta/Battlefield Earth anyone?) then are negated and hold no entertaining interest to us, coming full circle and making us judge them on screen for who they are?

RB- "For me there's always been a clear line. I'm not about gossip of celebrities private lives unless it relates directly to a film." -This would imply that those who saw Battlefield Earth were not seeing a politically minded agenda being aired by John Travolta in the form of a media parable, written by the founder of the religion he supports. In this case, he chose this role, as many actors do, based on his beliefs. The link is there, and this "clear line" is not as clear as some may think.

In so far as the OJ example; I absolutely love his performance in NG and find his appearances hilarious and well executed. His performance was and always will be funny. What was shown on opening weekend in that film is what is still shown today and has not changed, and is not what is being discussed, but what has absolutely changed is peoples perceptions of him. To say that people watch his performance however in exactly the same way in which they did before he was accused, is wholly unrealistic, whether it was my belief or anyone else's.

I again completely agree with accepting the beliefs of those around you and I also do so on a day to day basis at home and at work, and feel hard pressed upon that I even have to type such a comment, however....

I don't "work" with Tom Cruise. We are not trying to co-exist in a mutually benefitial relationship in which we need to get along in order to move forward.

He is selling me a product. A product which I now have less interest in because of how he, or those around him whom he trusts with his image, chooses to communicate his personality.

It must also be said that my argument is not best exemplified by Tom Cruise as I just dont have any reason to hate the guy, many reasons to dislike, but still not hate him. But I cannot conceed that the majority of viewer's opinions are not at all influenced by what they see off-screen. They cannot simply make the clear divide.

If Tom was to now play a role in which his newly born child was kidnapped and murdered (God I come up with some sick crap don't I?!), I think people would respond to such a story in light of his PR climate.

Equally if OJ was to play a murderer, having being acquitted of such allegations making him a perfect example, people would still feel strongly even though they have no facts or legally based reasons to do so. Again exemplifying my point; That peoples opinions on any person in any profession are subject to information concerning said person's lifestyle, whether that has a positive or negative resulting effect.

They may like them more as an actor because of who they are, or may think they are an ass. With Cruise, I stand on the latter.

It is a great topic and I'm just glad that there are so many readers of the site who can have an intelligent discussion.

I see the points you are making Rynndar and absolutely understand the other side here although again I think you've brought in another part of the debate.

A casting agent will have a totally different take on it, and they will be looking to maximise profits from the film so they'll get the person that will bring the most people into the cinema, so all these bias thoughts will be coming into play when they see them.

They will most definitely think about the pubic image because they know they audience do, and that's exactly what I don't agree with.

Looking at a lesser example, I'm having to consider if I keep my personal blog or not because some of my opinions and thoughts there are being brought into my work by others. Some of my colleagues can't separate my beliefs and thoughts outside of working hours from my job.

It's a similar situation. So should I give up the personal blog and stop discussing these things so that other people at work will only think about work and not confuse the two?

Oh, as an aside, Robert Downey Jr is a stunning actor and was great in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I'm glad that he's back acting and I hope we keep seeing him onscreen too.

Battlefield Earth was an awful science fiction film, for me there was nothing I saw that was a political agenda, just a very bad movie.

I agree though, Cruise is selling me a product, and the product is good I like it and want to see it. Nothing to do with the personality of the man.

It's like I use a Gillette razor. That has nothing to do with Beckham who is their front man, has had an affair, deserted English football (I have no interest in football by the way!), is friends with Cruise, etc, etc. If I let his life affect my choice of product I would have to use another razor. I use gillette because it shaves well, full stop.

What you're saying is right though, that's how the world is. I don't think it's right though.

I cannot agree Richard!
BIC razors offer a much closer shave!

But seriously though, given my thoughts on this topic I obviously feel that there is a certain corruption of the art in question here, and let us not forget that it IS an art form we are discussing as well as a type of centemporary entertainment.

But I do think that this is just that, a corruption of what the film fans and movie enthusiasts want. They want unadulterated entertainment with no strings attatched. Aside from "boffins" such as myself and others like me who may read too deep into lighthearted films, a regular Joe just wants a 90 min time killer.

But they are being denied just that. PR agendas and subliminal marketing can attactch a persons personal vendetta to the production of a film, Cruise threatening not to promote MI:III unless Paramount pulled the South Park Scientology episode for example.

But I sit right with you on this one, that the problem works both ways. They try and sway us and we are easily swayed in our views in many cases. Maybe if they were a little less aggressive on the marketing, and the whole "superstar" thing in general, then we would be getting what we want; a movie with no strings attatched. But then again we could also pay less attention to what is happening off screen too.

They shouldn't have to worry what we think about them as people and not actors, and we shouldnt have to worry about what we are being told by the marketing media.

Likewise, you should not suffer self-censorship because of what you are subjected to in work, and they should not have to worry about you carrying a personal agenda to the office. I must say that learning of your predicament appalled me and makes a great example of the lacking impartiality you discuss here. I really hope you don't have to make the choice of your right to speak or your reputation. That makes me sick.

The funny thing about all this is, I actually like Cruise in many ways. I personally favour Last Samurai above all else he has done and find it a little more eloquent and subtle. I could be angry because I really WANT to like him and just can't get past certain things he does, but of course, that is as much my failing as his.

All said, I really hope I haven't made an ass of myself and, after your review, I really am looking forward to seeing MI:III!

Thanks alot.

No arse made Rynndar, the debate is fantastic. Last Samurai is a superb film too and one of his best performances, seen Magnolia?

Totally agree with your comments there. Let's just turn this away a little though and think of something, the past.

When Hollywood had stars like Cary Grant they were made into huge mega stars but never had the sea of negative voices of today, even if their lives were extremely controversial. Is it just the media that's changed?

Very good point, and very weird co-incidence Rich.

You probably have this months Empire by now but they have an interesting spread on p70/71 about the "10 Greatest Hollywood Scandals". Number 1 happens to be silent movie legend Fatty Arbuckle's fall from grace after his rape and murder of a 25 year old starlet. Taking place in 1921 this initially made me think that it may not be a simple case of modern day media and the iPod generations insatiable appetite for scandal which was to blame.

But then I read an interesting point, the papers which covered the stories sold HUGE. Making it, and other scandals like it, cash fodder for the printed media. This got me thinking......

The media has obviously developed since 1921 but not only in its medium. Entertainment aside, we all know that the true purpose of television is not the shows which we take for granted, but the advertising. Our one hour show wouldn't exist if it weren't for the 10/15 mins of ads littered throughout. My point being, it is all about bottom line.

Since the media has become bigger, I think we have been subjected to more & more of this "scandal". I suggest that whoever may think otherwise should watch just one hours coverage on the "E!" channel. In that hour observe how many stories are concerning a scriptwriter, director, producer or technichal supervisor; the people who, for lack of better terminology, are responsible for the creative bedrock of our entertainment and compose it from scratch. Then see how much of that same coverage is concerning the "faces" of our entertainment, the actors. Then even further, how much of that coverage is devoted to the actors' "craft" and not their personal lives.

I am sure all will agree without even having seen "E!" that the ratio of the former to the latter will be infinite:infintecimal.

We eat this stuff up, and it seems like a cycle of ignorance. They feed us gossip 'cos we want it, and we want gossip 'cos it's all they feed us.

Remarkable observation though. Back then, actors seemed to be simply that.... actors. But then the media grabbed hold of them and decided that they could make more money from their demise than their success.

Kinda like selling your derby winning horse to the glue factory cos they offer more than the prize money. Less and less interest seems to be on the screen and more and more on what they do between projects. The mysterious romanticism of the superstar has been dropped for autopsy like exposition of what they read on the toilet.

Your'e spot on. The media certainly seem to have, over time, strangled the swing vote away from us in what we think of these people. They seem to have destroyed much of what they created for a higher-earning/lower yield entertainment industry. Almost makes me question what I watch/read now.

Haven't seen Magnolia, must rent/buy it. Interested to see him in that role compared to his others.

Yup, I thought he deserved to win a Best Supporting Actor in Magnolia too.

THAT good? My mates (I swear I have mates) scream the dialogue at me from time to time, and it sounds.... intriguing! Have to see it now.

I reckon he should, and more importantly could, do more off the beaten track roles. It's a pity he doesn't seem to be moving more and more in that direction. Maybe when he's older. How old is he actually?

One IMDB search later........

44?! Jees when did that lil kid in Risky Business turn forty frickin four?!

I came across another film site wherein the owner with his ego as big as the universe I reckon seem to revel on the fact that M:i:III only took USD$48M on opening weekend and blamed the seemingly low box office returns to Cruise- what is this crab mentality for? Where does all the hostility come from? Cruise doesnt owe you, or anybody else anything except a good performance, so you can't stand his antics? Dont watch it and please get off your high horse, you havent proven anything yourself. So stop whining.

Sorry Rich.

*Simone recovers from a heart attack now*

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but I would not be so happy that a potential (I haven't seen it yet) mega blockbuster, seemingly in his opinion isn't as good as it could or should be.

Personally, I'd be gutted, not basking in my own ego, that a couple of hundred million was pumped into a film which underperformed. That money could have funded ten potential Oscar winners which were never greenlit. To say that's masochistic is an understatement, when one is supposed to be in a position of furthering the industry we love.

It's kinda like the end of the world coming and then saying "Ha! I told you so! I rule! I'm the coolest! I'm soooooo right!"

Maybe someone's losing sight of why we're here in the first place? Cos we love movies?

Still, I hope it's as good as the majority of reviews.

LOL @ Rynndar, that's exactly how it feels like.

Interesting debate!

I believe that actors should separate their personal lives from their professional more than they do; actors who make explicitly personal statements - on their religion, say, or politics - are trying to use their power in one forum to influence another. If they chose to do that, I feel they are putting themselves up for grabs.

That said, I think Cruise manages the dichotomy in a very effective manner - and I think it is great the way he gives back to the fans who wait for him on the red carpet.

Good Lord!

Speak of the devil and he shall appear, OJ makes his "glorious" comeback and free of charge!

http://www.filmjunk.com/2006/05/12/oj-simpson-stars-in-direct-to-dvd-prank-show-juiced/

You may say what you want about Cruise but I love this man. And I am pleased as punch after reading this from the BBC:

"Actor Tom Cruise has been crowned the world's most powerful celebrity for the second time by US magazine Forbes. Cruise, the only film star to make the top 10, first topped the business publication's annual rundown in 2001. He came 10th last year."

I'm with you on this one Simone - I'm a fan of Cruise, the guy is just a great actor - end of story. It's well documented that he is incredibly dedicated and always gives 110% when playing a role and when watching him do interviews he seems so full of enthusiasm and genuine love for his job that it's hard not to be affected by that. I personally don't care what he does in his personal life, and don't read much of the tabloid stuff printed about him, but from watching how he conducts himself with the fans, you have to respect that. The guy doesn't have to spend hours signing autographs and posing for pictures, but you get the sense that he knows that he's in the position he's in because of the people who go see his movies and he genuinely appreciates it. Not many big-time stars you could say that about.

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