My father had just died. It was a hard death, not a quick one, and on my last return from joining him in Sacramento, I made a promise to myself: I’ll be at peace with everyone for a while. No fight. There are no arguments. Whatever anyone wanted, as much as I could, I would just do it.
we have a problemexplained Maer. To talk He had planned some sort of theme issue related to work and/or professional life in America. But Tina had managed to get Tom Cruise on the cover. Maer did not see a link. But maybe I could figure it out. The interview was already set. Be at the Hotel Bel-Air in three days, interview Cruise, and write something that, if not brilliant, at least makes sense.
TRUE. No fight. There are no arguments. Just interview Tom Cruise.
When I got home, my 14-year-old son’s first words were: “I’m so sorry, Dad. I heard about Tom Cruise.” We had already dealt with my father’s downfall; and he knew how I felt about his celebrity interviews. I didn’t like them.
But it was there. In those days, I went and studied at the Santa Monica Library, which was more of an information repository than a homeless camp. Mostly, I read some old, massively empathetic books. scientologyincluding what appears to be a vast encyclopedia of Scientological terms, beliefs, and “technology.” I thought it wouldn’t hurt. If the topic is opened.
This is where things get interesting.
I actually met Cruise at Bel-Air. It was one of those bright, fresh Southern California winter mornings when you couldn’t see why a person would live anywhere else. Tom was charming. Of course, he grinned. But I got straight to the point.
we have a problem, I said. The next issue is all about work and professional life. But we have a movie star on the cover – you. If we don’t want to look ridiculous, we both have to figure out what you are. risky business man, Jerry Maguire, super weapon hot shot, impossible mission (with Minority Report then on deck) can teach doctors or lawyers or investment bankers or anyone To talk‘ may be on the minds of advertising-hungry publishing personnel.
To his eternal credit and eternal gratitude, Cruise didn’t even blink. Instead, he started a smart, structured conversation about his movies, his career, his goals, and the principles that have kept him going through the ups and downs of a slippery, dangerous industry. I was prepared in the library, I could follow the basic Scientological sections. It was mostly direct, real, and he did all the work.
God bless him.
Because there was more to the adventure. for one thing To talk The piece was folded before release. But Pat KingsleyAs Cruise’s publisher at the time, Cruise wasn’t one to let the disappearance of a magazine deprive him of a cover. Somehow he managed to send everything there. EsquireHe released it in May under a foreboding title: “The Most Dangerous Place.”
Cruise was never a friend—I didn’t fool myself into thinking I had professionally distant, movie buddies. But for a while he was definitely willing. He once sent out a plexiglass stand-up with the basic maxims of Scientology inscribed. My son kept it as one of his pop cultural artifacts, along with a Charles Bukowski poster and a Stooges album he found in the pile. At one point, Cruise even invited my wife, Judi, and me to a big banquet at Scientology’s Celebrity Center.
We went. It was weird, mostly because we were sitting at a table with a few Creative Artist reps. extraordinary Pictures that don’t look comfortable. In fact, a Paramount officer sitting to my left was so agitated that Judi and I quietly decided to split up halfway through the proceedings. “This guy pisses me off,” she said.
When we got out, the parking attendant shocked me. “Sorry you had to leave early,” he said. “We’ve all read your article.”
Cruise sent a note saying he was sorry we couldn’t stay, but hoped we’d have a chance to talk one day.
But we never did. My Tom Cruise moment was over.