Tom Cruise, who is being hailed as the last superhero–and mind you he is 59 years old–turned out to be the darling of the crowds on Wednesday at the ongoing 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. The festival kicked into an overdrive, when Tom, as the hero of Top Gun: Maverick, landed at the Festival venue and eight fighter jets zoomed above expelling smoke in red and blue to match the colours of the French flag. Also read: Tom Cruise breaks into tears at surprise Cannes Film Festival award, gets a standing ovation for Top Gun: Maverick
A couple of hours before the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, in which he plays a daredevil pilot, he gave a masterclass to a packed Debussy Theatre, nestled between the hills and the divinely blue Mediterranean Sea.
The hour-long session began with a 15-minute highlight reel from the actor’s career, with clips from his films including Rain Man, Jerry Maguire and A Few Good Men among others.
But did Cannes forget someone in Tom’s life or did someone in the editing room goof up? Actor Nicole Kidman–who was married to him for a decade and diddone three films with him, including the great Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut–was conspicuously missing in the clips. Days of Thunder in which the two met was there, but no footage of them in a torrid embrace was to be seen. Instead, it was only shots of Tom behind the wheel of a very fast car. There were clips from Far and Away, the sprawling historical epic in which the two appeared as Irish immigrants seeking their fortune in 1890s America. Here, though, Tom was glimpsed riding a horse, Nicole was not to be found!
But, well, the day was Tom’s day, and it rolled that way all along.
If Tom got lensmen cheering at a photo call with his boyish smile and lock of unruly brownish hair, he got crowds into a delirious high when he began his address, and mind you, he started by saying the right thing. Paramount, which produced Top Gun: Maverick, would never let it go to a streaming platform.
Indeed, this was the reason why the movie’s release was delayed; it was to have opened in 2019, but got pushed and pushed till Wednesday evening, when it opened to a very appreciative audience that gave a six-minute standing ovation.
French cinema distributors and exhibitors have been dead against any film opening on OTT before being released in theatres, and the window period is a long 18 months. This has been a major headache for the Festival and streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Cannes lost several movies to Venice, which imposes no such condition.
At the class in conversation with the French journalist, Didier Lelouch, the actor went a step further to promote the big screen. “I wear a cap and walk into cinemas…I remain resolutely in the cinema realm. It is a different skill writing a film than something for television,” said the actor. “How to shoot and how to communicate is just different, and it’s a whole different skillset.”
Detailing his career path, strewn with the scariest of dangers, Tom Cruise said that even as a boy he did wild things like climbing the tallest tree in the neighbourhood. He also reminisced about jumping off the roof of his house using a bedsheet as a parachute as a child.
He is now an ace pilot and does most of the stunts himself. When asked why he dared to do these things endangering his life, he quipped: “No one asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance?’…I always thought there’s something that I can do and I wanted to push the art form. I thought how can I immerse an audience into a movie with this kind of action? And how can I entertain them? What can I do?” he averred to the delight of the crowd. “If you fall, you would always walk away with something”
Regarding his collaborators, he prefers to work with those who aren’t afraid to fail or say they don’t know. “It’s better to create,” said Tom.