I’m so grateful to Tom Cruise for getting papped while arriving on his helicopter – probably the only non-active duty person on the planet who is photographed travelling more via helicopter than by car! – in London because I read a story about him that amused me so much I can finally post about it. And the funny part doesn’t even really have to do with him. 

 

Neil Jordan has a new memoir out called Amnesiac and he writes about Interview With the Vampire and the backlash that came for all of them, but especially Tom, when he was cast as Lestat. At the time, everybody hated the idea, including the book’s author Anne Rice. It’ll be 30 years since the movie’s release this November and remember, in 1994, Tom Cruise was all about planes and race cars and all-American heroes, the most handsome and dazzling of movie stars. Casting him as a vampire was not on anyone’s bingo card. 

An excerpt from the book was published a few days ago and here’s how Neil recalls the situation (via Variety): 

“The problem was the casting of Lestat. Brad Pitt had agreed to play Louis and somehow assumed Daniel Day-Lewis would be playing Lestat, an assumption shared by [author] Anne [Rice]. I offered it to Daniel, who read it, and, as I expected, didn’t want to play the character. A few years before, he had confined himself to a wheelchair to play Christy Brown in ‘My Left Foot.’ He would have had to sleep in a coffin for the entirety of this production if he followed the same practice. So we moved on.”

 

LOLOLOLOL FOREVER. 

Neil Jordan is a WRITER. And the tone he takes with that paragraph is masterful. “So we moved on” after the whole bit about sleeping in the coffin is sending me… 

 

Anyway, Tom did not need to sleep in a coffin to become Lestat. And he proved people wrong when they eventually saw his performance. He also proved Neil Jordan right, because Neil obviously saw it before everyone else after meeting with Tom in LA: 

“I finally got it. He had to live a life removed from the gaze of others. He had made a contract with the hidden forces, whatever they turned out to be. He had to hide in the shadows, even in the Hollywood sunlight. He would be eternally young. He was a star. He could well be Lestat.”

Is there a double entendre there when Neil says that Tom “made a contract with the hidden forces, whatever they turned out to be”? Is it a contract with the fame devil, that compromise that all stars must submit to in exchange for the spotlight? Or, you know, is it a contract with the Thetan in exchange for, um, extraterrestrial immortality? Neil Jordan is too skilled of a writer to not know that there can be multiple interpretations of that sentence. 

 

But two things can be true. Whatever Neil is alluding to in that passage can co-exist with his profound respect for Tom as an actor. In Neil’s opinion, Tom is “also a superb actor” and yet still underestimated: 

“The entire world said, ‘You are miscast.’ He’s a great actor. If he says he can do something, he will do it in a way that people will be shocked by. Tom has become the last remaining film star. It’s kind of strange.” 

Maybe you have to be strange to be the last remaining film star. Maybe that’s the only way to remain a film star. Tom Cruise is one of the few stars who refuses to perform normal. Tom Cruise is not out here dangling from a moving train while insisting that he’s “just like us”. He’s never tried to be “just like us”. We don’t know what he’s like at all. At least not anymore. We used to know too much, and it resulted in a dramatic dimming of his star power. So he lives outside the gaze of others, maintaining that contract with whatever hidden forces, and hiding in the shadows, a vampire who doesn’t need a coffin.   

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