Los Angeles Times: Tom Cruise Control

Source: Los Angeles Times
Date: November 29, 1992

A look inside Hollywood and the movies

As Far as Covert Operations Go, It Ain't Irangate

by Ryan Murphy

Is talking to a former acquaintance of a celebrity without their knowledge or permission akin "to a covert operation"?

That's what actor Tom Cruise hypothesizes in the new issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly in a revealing interview with writer Stephanie Mansfield. In the GQ cover story, titled "Tom Cruise, Out of Character," Mansfield broaches a subject that is particularly relevant at a time when actors and their publicists are exerting stronger efforts to control the spin on feature articles.

Should reporters alert celebrities to their every move as they compile information for a profile? According to the editors of GQ and Mansfield, absolutely not. Cruise does not agree with this tack, however. "It's, like, rude," blasts the star of the upcoming "A Few Good Men." "That's just a common decency."

Along with shedding light on the topic of celebrity rights, Mansfield's profile sheds light on another side of Cruise, who is regarded by many journalists who have interviewed him as one of the most polite actors in the business. He is well-known for his films, his penchant for race cars and his belief in Scientology. But Mansfield's profile offers another view of the actor: Tom Cruise, when he considers himself crossed, can get very, very angry.

It seems Mansfield, via a friend, got the phone number of a former high school friend of Cruise's. "I had a very nice talk with her for around an hour. She had lovely bittersweet memories about him. I mean, she did not say one thing negative. No one did," Mansfield said in an interview. But when Mansfield asked Cruise in the telephone follow-up about some of her recollections, the actor went, as she writes, "ballistic" and their unusual confrontation became part of the story.

Writes Mansfield: "He feels betrayed. We had a pleasant meeting, bonded in a mutually self-serving way, and now I've gone and ruined it. I explain that for any profile, I usually call two dozen people. `We're supposed to be discussing a movie,' he snaps momentarily forgetting his people skills.

"But we cannot discuss the movie. He has turned petulant. Steely. Behavior so far from his good-natured screen persona that I am temporarily stunned into silence. Being chewed out by Tom Cruise is not a pleasant experience."

Cruise became so angry at her unapproved actions, she writes, that he hung up on her, but not before he "blew up completely. He kept saying `Who did you talk to? Who did you talk to?' "

Then, he called back. During their second phone conversation, Cruise calmed down and asserted: "Look, there are no secrets. Sometimes you walk along a beach, looking for a piece of sand. Sometimes it's right in front of you. You don't have to dig. The sand is the sand-do you know what I'm saying?"

"Celebrities have always had a need for control, but it's worse now than ever I think," says Mansfield, a former Washington Post Style section writer. "In the case with this piece, I think Tom is very conscious of his image, his press, and when he thought even for a minute that he lost control, he freaked.

"The whole situation, which was very unpleasant for all parties involved, made me feel that Tom Cruise really invented himself and was worried that I was going to expose something. I felt sad for him, ultimately. It was a very sad experience."

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