Sunday, August 30, 2009

[tom cruise] rumour magnet but possibly just awkward and shy

This is one of those "much better than I could ever write" pieces so I'm lifting it, holus-bolus, from the Age:

Has any star ever been the subject of more rumour-mongering than Tom Cruise? According to a multitude of new and old allegations: he's gay; he's impotent; his sperm count is too low to father a child; his first marriage, to actress Mimi Rogers, disintegrated under the pressure of her sexual frustration; his second wife, Nicole Kidman, left him on the expiry of her 10-year marriage contract with him; Mrs Cruise III, Katie Holmes, is also under contract but with the added proviso of falling pregnant to him; their child, Suri Cruise, is not his and her actual biological father is either actor Chris Klein or deceased Scientology founder, L Ron Hubbard, via frozen sperm; while his adopted children were purchased from impoverished Scientology adherents.

Tom Cruise has died at least once - most recently last year, when he fell to his death in notorious celebrity danger zone New Zealand; he's demonstrated his genius for typecasting by giving Victoria Beckham the role of an alien princess in a film about Scientology; he's built a bunker in Colorado in which to shelter from the wrath of intergalactic warrior Xenu; and most enduringly, he's said to be hopelessly devoted to alleged fellow Scientologist Will Smith, from which the need for contract wives arises. Will Smith has publicly defended Tom Cruise and his faith but denies membership in the church of Scientology.

In fact, there is not a shred of evidence to support any of these stories and most have been either retracted when legally tested or disproved by the conflicting accounts of informed witnesses. Yet, they persist. Mud sticks, as they say, but in Tom Cruise's case, it seems that no amount of PR detergent can cleanse his public image. But why?

What is about him that leads people to believe and propagate such unlikely tales?

I'd put in, first and foremost, that his name, Cruise, is an immediate turn-off, a fabricated Mr. Cool name, even though there is the pesky little matter of it actually happening to be his real name.

He is a short-a--e, let's face it, a small man in manner, much smaller even than me and I'm not big. This does not endear. Look at Dustin Hoffman and then look at Danny de Vito. The difference is that the former tries to come across as Mr. Cool and can't pull it off. De Vito has none of that baggage and even parodies himself, so we can like him more.

Cruise has this thing about being taken oh so seriously and he can't do it. He also has these annoying habits like his pushing of his faith, [I'm ever mindful of my own position here], his bouncing on the sofa like a kid, the way he screws up his face but the intolerance also rankles, such as when he allegedly told a clearly mocking interviewer, on the subject of scientiology, "Fuck you!" Now that doesn't seem too Christian in most eyes although I've been known to use a few expletives in conversation with my mate and still believe in G-d.

It rankles with the public though.

Andrew Morton, makes the point that in 1996, Tom Cruise became the first actor to star in five consecutive films grossing over $US100 million at the American box office. His career is commercially unrivalled and over the years he's slowly but surely won over the critics as well - with one famous exception.

Pauline Kael, the New Yorker's now deceased, but still influential film critic, had no time for Cruise's dynamically intense screen presence. She panned his acting style as "patented" complaining that it "produces nothing but fraudulence".

Is he a good actor? I don't know. I think he is - he was excellent and even chilling in Interview with the Vampire, a film which also showcased Brad Pitt's considerable talent as an actor. Whatever one might personally feel about the two of them, perhaps you might concede that they can both act.

So what's the problem? Why should we be concerned at all about Tom Kat? Is it jealousy of his success? I don't think so. Most of the people I've ever conversed with on the issue are just worried that there's something wrong about him, something implausible. I feel well-qualified to write about this because there are many who think the same about me - that there are always question marks next to my name. Do I contrive to create this? I can say no but it happens nonetheless.

Perhaps in this is the key to Tom Cruise. So we get this:

As Morton describes it, "Those who have interviewed him and even audited him have come away from an encounter feeling that they have been subjected to a performance rather than a personality." This sentiment is echoed by Ariel Leve in The Sunday Times where she writes that in interviews Cruise "engages but at the same time is disengaged". A less charitable assessment quoted by Morton comes from an unnamed former colleague who sums up Cruise's persona as being "bland as tofu but without the flavour".

Similarly, I had a headmaster once sit me down in his living room and ask me, "I want to know what really makes James Higham tick." I couldn't tell him. It's not that I wouldn't - I couldn't. In my case, it's a deeply ingrained sense of privacy which leads to a sort of putting on of an act to keep people at bay. People always suspect someone [other than them] who want their privacy so much that their defensive mechanisms are too smooth.

Is this the case with Tom Cruise? He certainly allows quite a bit to escape to the public and the public don't like what they see. So he goes back into his shell and then he's accused of not being real. The man can't seem to win. He just seems awkward, to me, with some kooky ideas and each time he interfaces with the real world, he gets kicked, so he goes back into the shell of his private world, only coming out through his art.

Look, has anyone considered that Cruise is basically shy? Shy people have a hell of a time. I should know because I'm shy and please don't guffaw and spill your coffee at that.

Andrew Morton [concludes]: "What you see is not what you get". In Morton's view, Cruise's winning smile and buoyant charisma masks an "edgy, threatening, and even sinister" personality whose greatest challenge is playing himself.

That's surely the long and the short of it, isn't it?

To me, there are two kinds of secretive people - those with a Real Secret or Twenty to conceal and those who imagine they have but simply haven't, nothing really bad anyway. The former tend to be oily and in control but very brittle when threatened, the latter tend to be charming but honest ... in control and very brittle when threatened. How to tell them apart?


Tom Cruise comes across, to me, as the latter type. All right, he might have some tax issues, he might not. There doesn't seem too much else he could be up to unless he's a Manchurian Candidate or an alleged Illuminati trainer like, say, Kristofferson or Jerry Lee Lewis or allegedly one of Them like Bob Hope. I'd imagine it would be hard for an intense, shy man to also be an action hero to one half of the populace. Hard to combine the two, you would think.


Bill Quango MP said...

...and please don't guffaw and spill your coffee at that.

Too late.

I like Tom Cruise. He made his popcorn movies and moved on to better. I am no fan of the M.I. movies but there is nothing wrong with them as action movies. No different to a Bond film.

Collateral, War of the Worlds minority Report, he plays a flawed lead. A role that doesn't have to be damaged at all. I wonder if he asked for some fleshing out to give him something to do on screen.
Anyway, what's not to like.

Now , Ben Affleck on the other hand... is there a single film in which he has made an impact for the good?

The Underdoug said...

I remember the French word for 'awful' (affreux) by remembering Ben Affleck (for as brief a time as possible).

James Higham said...

Affleck is not overrated - he's rated poor by most.

xlbrl said...

That is a good take on him. His movies are generally good, his perfomances also, and as long as Keanu Reeves lives, no actor needs to worry about his level of talent.

It is always astonishing when an actor is not a fool. With rare exception, he can rise no higher than in recognizing that, and keeping his mouth shut. That is why Paul Newman was respected. And, of course, his wife reminded him of his condition.

Nunyaa said...

Tom Cruise is a penis with ears. Unfortunately his off screen ways tarnish any acting skills he has.

Anonymous said...

Tom you a confused little man