Tom Cruise has struggled against a sea of negative press ever since his antics on Oprah in 2006. His latest offering 'Oblivion' is said to be his 'make or break' film after a series of Box Office flops. In this week's Big Debate, Joe and Charlotte argue it out: 'Is Tom Cruise a PR Mission Impossible?'
Be careful what you say about Tom Cruise. Not if you’re talking to a friend face to face, of course, because he’s not a fucking wizard who can command animals to be his spies. But he is quite litigious, and it’s safe to assume that he’s got enough money to afford at least a dial-up internet connection, so he could stumble upon this article. If you’re reading, Mr Cruise, welcome! I guess your claim that Scientology cured your dyslexia was accurate.
Cruise has proven himself to be a great actor and a hugely bankable star, but he’s also the kind of man who it’s difficult to imagine having friends. There’s a terrifying intenseness to his surface affability and while he makes more money than any other Hollywood actor, I don’t envy his position. The only thing worse than being the subject of international scrutiny is publicly reacting to press rumours. Suing newspapers over something as innocuous as claims about your sexuality only has the effect of reinforcing the speculation, not suffocating it.
This approach has alienated Cruise in his homeland over the past decade, but somehow failed to dull his international appeal. Outside of his personal life and religious views, part of the problem that Cruise faces today is his own ubiquity. When you see him onscreen playing a character, you don’t think ‘That’s Jack Reacher, about to kick a man inside out’ or ‘That’s Ethan Hunt, about to explode the Kremlin’. You think ‘That’s Tom Cruise, about to earn another $50 million’. This isn’t a unique problem amongst the Hollywood elite, but the non-stop onslaught of big budget action blockbusters pursued by Cruise hasn’t given him any breathing space out of the public eye.
Cruise has proven to be an incredibly durable star, but he still acts as if he’s still got something to prove. And that makes him worthy of your pity.
I feel a sense of injustice for Tom Cruise. You’d have thought, what with being Hollywood’s Best Paid Actor and having three Golden Globes under his belt, he would have a bit more respect from the general public.
But what never fails to surprise me is just how unpopular the man is: scoffed and scorned at by people and publications for being a weird, short-arse Scientologist.
In the 90s, it had been pretty smooth sailing for Tommy Baby, and his popularity was high. But everything changed in 2006. It was this year that he let the Scientology cat out of the bag, revealed his aversion to psychiatry (a big mistake in America), and jumped all over Oprah’s couch, declaring his love for Katie Holmes. As a result, his ‘Q Score’ (a rating of celebrity popularity), dropped by 40%.
I was sad to see that people could be so easily turned off the actor – so much so that his Box Office performance was negatively affected. Because, to me, none of Cruise's actions should have made him a PR disaster, only a more interesting individual.
If the anti-Cruise machine gets its way, we could be living in a world where there are no Tom Cruise films. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that. He’s one of the best actors of a generation: dazzling, energetic and captivating. I don’t think anyone could convey as much charisma in a role, whether they’re jumping off exploding buildings in ‘Mission Impossible’, or staring at boobs in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.
I get that Cruise can be a bit quirky - not many men would jump on Oprah's couch to show their love for a woman; Scientology isn't everyone's cup of tea. But I think we need to stop being so critical of Cruise as a person. I, for one, am impressed by the passion he throws into everything, be it cinematic performance, religion or love. I simply could not dislike someone for showing enthusiasm. To have actors like Cruise makes Hollywood a more diverse and interesting place.
I do not think Cruise is a PR Mission Impossible – I think it may be us, rather than him, that needs to change. We need to celebrate his individuality, and embrace him as a figure of cool. He may be only 5'7, but we could all look up to Tom Cruise.