Tom Cruise once told me that to work well with him I needed to study Scientology. He wanted me to take an introductory class at their Los Angeles Center. Pat Kingsley, the most renowned Hollywood publicist at the time, who had just signed the Cruise account, would take the class with me.
I was outraged by what I interpreted to be a subtle threat. I bluntly, mincing no words, informed Tom I wasn’t that interested in working well with him. My seemingly nonpolitical retort certainly brought the house of wrath down on my head. Tom called my Chairman. The Chairman wanted to know what the hell was wrong with me? He flatly told me that my job was to do anything I had to to make things copasetic with the talent.
Bull shit. Last time I read it, the Constitution gives me the right to the religion, faith or spiritual belief, or lack of, of my choice. I don’t force my beliefs on anyone and I don’t let anyone force theirs on me. After all, I’d been through this firestorm before.
Pat took the training. I refused.
Perhaps Tom Cruise is more then just a star. Perhaps he is a good actor. I confess I’m simply not the one to judge. I worked with Tom on several films in which he starred. I found him to be a calculated cunning man. The overworked smile, the jumping into crowds with such overwhelming manic exuberance. From my perspective it all seemed slightly condescending and staged. He was Mr. Wonderful on steroids. Or am I being too glib?
Behind the scenes it was much different. When you crossed the guy even slightly there was big trouble. One day at a ShoWest convention in Las Vegas a photographer caught Nicole Kidman and Tom backstage. He began to photograph the famous couple. Nicole was wearing heels. She realized that in the pictures she would appear a lot taller then Tom. We all knew Tom was obsessive about being rather short and compulsive about appearing taller then Nicole in pictures. So, Nicole immediately kicked off her shoes but the photographer managed to snap a picture of the move.
Whereupon, Tom freaked. He pulled me aside and commanded that I “get that roll away from him now” with unbridled rage beginning to brew.
I stepped in. “Excuse me, but Tom and Nicole would be glad to pose for you, however, we don’t want any unflattering photographs of their feet so please give me the roll of film in your camera and we can start again.”
This confirmed what the photographer already suspected. He had a shot that would result in a big pay day for him.
‘You need to give it to me now or I’ll have to call security” I said sternly.
“Ah Sally, give the guy a break…” I couldn’t believe what Tom was saying. He was playing Mr. Nice Guy for the camera. What a jerk.
“ No Tom, I feel strongly about this” I continued to insist, knowing full well that if I failed to get the roll of film my ass would be grass.
A tussle soon ensued. Tom ducked. The bodyguards came in, took the guy’s camera, pulled the roll out, exposed it and left it hanging there. All the while Tom laughed and apologized to the crowd of conventioneers that had now gathered glued to the sight. He actually patted the photographer on the back. Mano de mano.
“No hard feelings man. These publicists are so uptight” he said “ gives them something to do.”
Yeah, right Shortie.