Let's do some speculating on Tom Cruise
It must grate on Oprah–as much as anything can grate on a billionaire–that the most memorable moment of The Oprah Winfrey Show was when a small maniacally grinning middle-aged movie star treated her couch like a trampoline. Not the cars, not the school in South Africa, not the author controversies, not the Great Lesbian Road Trip with Gayle, not inflicting Dr. Phil on America.
Nope, it’s Tom Cruise doing a hybrid of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Oscar acceptance and a 15-year-old boy who just lost his virginity. And despite the fanatical reception from the crowd, he’s playing the wrong part.
If you were to take Tom and put him in front of green screen, you’d be hard-pressed not think he’d just scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Oprah must have been thrown off. It’s the big scene and Tom’s reading the wrong script.
That’s the thing I find most interesting about Tom though. And why, despite disliking most of his movies, I find him ten times more interesting than similar huge stars (Pitt, Clooney, Smith, Crowe, Washington, etc.) at least in real life.
There’s an excellent article in Vulture a few weeks ago that posits an counter-narrative to the official tabloid Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes story. The official story breaks down to: Tom is a super closeted gay control freak whose sham marriages provide the beard that keeps the Tom Cruise Action Star gravy train running. Katie, for her part, is trapped normal who finally rescued herself and Suri from his clutches.
Benjamin Wallace thinks maybe we’ve misjudged both TomKat. That Tom is emphatically not gay and Katie is emphatically not a helpless wife who finally found the strength to break free from a suffocating marriage.
The whole thing is an excellent read but the parts I find most interesting are about Tom’s repeated misjudging of his audience. And when you are Tom Cruise everybody is an audience. If he’s not making out with Katie Holmes for an awkwardly long time in line at a bathroom, he’s over-texting people about how about the funniness of their movie:
Rob Corddry, who also stars in the film [Hot Tub Time Machine], said later that Cruise was constantly texting him during the movie saying how funny he thought it was.
Even when he’s part of the audience he’s playing to the crowd. If he weren’t famous, I think he would be one of the people you occasionally hear at movies earnestly talking to the screen.
These slightly off behaviors seem to be the origin for the gay rumors. He puts off an odd vibe like he’s covering something up and everyone assumes it’s his love of dingus. I think it’s to cover up the fact that once you take away an audience Tom Cruise ceases to exist.
Thus you get Scientology. I can’t be a husk if I’m a Thetan right?
And you get three (and no doubt more to come) marriages. I think you’d find that once Mimi, Nicole, Katie, et al. were alone in a room with him, it wasn’t that he wished they were men so much as he wished they were a crowd. When you have no other setting than intensely, blindingly ON, its got to be tough to play a mundane role like “Husband who just grabbed the mail is about to take a shower.”
Thus the over-compensating at all other times: I’m not just going to laugh at this movie, I’m going to text others to tell them how funny I thought it was (Have you ever in your life done this?). I don’t just love my wife, I can’t keep my hands off her while we wait for the bathroom. I’m not just a Scientology adherent, I’m the biggest supporter of the church ever.
That is the most interesting thing about Tom Cruise. He’s the biggest star in the world he doesn’t exist.