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Feature: War of the Worlds (2005)

Cruise at War

Tom Cruise tells Film Review why this movie was the best birthday present he’s ever been given…

Despite not being one of the tallest men in Hollywood, Tom Cruise certainly towers over most of his contemporaries in terms of popular status and box office success. Ever since he made his feature breakthrough in 1983’s Risky Business, the actor has steadily risen up the ladder of fame and fortune to become one of today’s most recognizable and bankable stars. He has graduated from playing pretty boy roles in early films like Top Gun and Cocktail, to impressing in rather more meatier films including Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July and Vanilla Sky. One man who has had his head turned by Cruise’s effortless on-screen abilities is director Steven Spielberg who, having successfully cast him in Sci-Fi thriller Minority Report, offered him the lead role of Ray Ferrier in his long-in-the-works adaptation of HG Wells’s classic novel The War of the Worlds. And, as Cruise says, he didn’t have to be asked twice. “We were sitting in the back of a car,” he recalls of the time he visited Spielberg on the set of the director’s film Catch Me If You Can. “And [Spielberg] said ‘Ok, here’s three [ideas for movies]’. And I went ‘Oh my God, War of the Worlds, absolutely!’ That day it was done.” Cruise only remembers that one of the other of Spielberg’s ideas was a Western, which he hopes they can do one day, but it was this project that caught and held his attention. “War of the Worlds was always a book that I really enjoyed and I felt that the story could be relevant, and all the elements are exciting.”

The shoot for this film has been unlike anything Cruise has worked on before, with large, effects-laden scenes and plenty of digital effects combining to present a realistic impression of the world under attack from malevolent alien invaders. As a result the production schedule for this film was particularly long, but Cruise had absolutely no doubts about committing himself to the project. “Steven [Spielberg] makes movies, they’re not rushed, but he just is fast,” the actor explains. “He works at a different pace that doesn’t compromise story or character at all. We show up on the set and he’s just deadly accurate in his choices and direction. I remember on Minority Report, massive action scenes that he can adjust and fix and change the whole thing on the spot, if he finds an idea. And it was the same thing when we were shooting [War of the Worlds]. We shot a sequence in Newark that, when you see the film, we shot it in five days. Other directors, I’m telling you, it would have taken them three weeks to get it!” Cruise is quick to assert that, despite Spielberg’s controlled approach to his direction, he still leaves room for improvisation and change. “It’s not like it was all pre-determined. There [was] that creative exploration where it’s just, it’s alive, and it’s really just fun!”

by Nikki Baughan and Judy Sloane

Get the full interview and more on what's coming this summer in
Film Review (Sum)

Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Sum), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Sum)
#658, Summer 2005
ships from May 19 2005
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