Monday, December 15, 2008
Over the past two years, actor Tom Cruise has done his best to come off as a weirdo and damage his career. From jumping on Oprah's couch followed by bashing psychiatry and post-partum depression on the Today show, and then being publicly whipped by Viacom's Sumner Redstone when Spielberg's War of the Worlds came out.
Cruise was like a rock rolling down the hill gathering moss with no way of stopping him. The film he produced, Lions For Lambs, bombed. His partner, Paula Wagner, left the company. This was one "golden boy" who was seriously tarnished.
Which leads to his rather fascinating appearance on the Today show this morning. Ostensibly to plug his next big budget movie Valkyrie, which opens Christmas Day, there was a lot more riding on his guest spot than just that movie. Having lost his step with the public and ruffled feathers in Hollywood, Cruise is now on a new Mission Impossible: to win back the goodwill of those who lost faith in him.
This "mission" is not an easy one: in the forthcoming thriller, he plays a World War II Nazi officer who attempts to assassinate Hitler, in an English accent.... and since it's based on a true story, everybody knows how it turned out. Will the world be willing to forgive Cruise?
I thought he did a terrific job, so my hat is off to whoever is masterminding his campaign.
He got off to an impressive start this morning, popping up during an outdoor segment and then spending several minutes shaking hands with the squealing public. Big points for seeming to be a regular guy and doing that.
Lauer started his interview right off the bat by addressing Cruise's run of weird behavior in 2005. The actor treated it seriously, had all the right body language and said the correct things:
“I thought about it a lot. It’s a subject matter that was important. After looking at it, I really thought, it’s not what I had intended. In looking at myself, I came across arrogant. I absolutely could have handled that better... I learned a lesson. I think I learned a really good lesson.”
And the cherry on the cake, which really nailed it for sympathy:
“I’m here to entertain people. That’s who I am and what I want to do.”
Apologies are generally one of the hardest things for a public figure to do. They feel they are above everything, kid of living in their own bubble and surrounded by "yes men." However, when push comes to shove, and this would certainly be the case with a lot of big money and people's reputations affected by Valkyrie, it it time to come back down to planet earth, eat humble pie and appear remorseful and "real."
I am sure we'll be seeing a lot more of Tom Cruise until this movie opens up. In 10 days, we'll find out if his "Mission Impossible" succeeded.