He arrived at the San Diego and Cannes premieres by helicopter, and refused to cave to the economic imperatives of the pandemic by streaming Top Gun: Maverick on a platform. At 59, Tom Cruise has lost none of his energy and fully assumes, with an astonishing mixture of almost childlike naivety, humility, passion and expertise, his status as a planetary star.
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It's hard not to admire the man, the "performer" who wants to do his own stunts, who has impeccable professional ethics, a lover of the big screen who says "go see the movies in a room as soon as they go out”, a cap screwed on the head to protect his anonymity.
It is for this reason that he returned to the Croisette after 30 years of absence. At the end of two years of pandemic and closure of cinemas around the world, Tom Cruise is convinced of the unifying capacity of “blockbusters”. "Look at us, we are all united, we all speak different languages, we are from different cultures... We are united in our ability to come together as a community in a common experience," he said. with conviction during the master class led by Didier Allouch, journalist, director and great fan of the star, hired by the Cannes Film Festival for the occasion.
Aviator glasses, impeccable tan, infectious energy even through the videoconference screen on which the premieres of “Top Gun: Maverick” and the master class in Cannes are broadcast live… Tom Cruise is moving. He takes the time to greet his admirers, to pose for selfies, to answer questions from journalists. He smiles, shakes hands, strikes a pose, says a few words to everyone. Tireless, patient, attentive despite the dark circles under his eyes. And in fact, it commands admiration. We do not know if he is really like that, far from the flashes of cameras, like the man who sells his films with an infectious passion, and who, when asked why he performs his own stunts, answers with a laugh : "Would you ask Gene Kelly why he does all his dancing numbers?".
Working with him is “exceptional,” said Jennifer Connelly, his co-star who, moreover, shares a moment in bed with Cruise. In the pages of Variety, she specifies that “these two characters have a very tender relationship. There is clearly something unresolved between them and she approaches the situation with humor and playfulness.
A "maverick" is a maverick, a dissident, a maverick. It is also the “call sign”, in other words the call sign, the pilot nickname of Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise). In this sequel, which Cruise says has been fan-requested for “decades. Decades,” he repeated, both incredulous and proud, Mitchell is an instructor. One day, he is asked to form a group of Top Gun graduates for a special mission under the orders of Admiral Tom Kazansky (Val Kilmer), his old rival. And he also meets Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his deceased friend.
Tom Cruise's speech flow is dizzying, from this whirlwind born of the confidence acquired in the accomplishment of a profession during 40 years of career. Top Gun: Maverick is the sum of his experiences, another step in a journey that includes the “Mission: Impossible” franchise he has piloted for 28 years now. But beware, no feature film is his. "It's not my movie. This is OUR movie,” he insisted of all his “blockbusters” which have generated more than $9 billion in box office revenue.
But this dizzying number is just another measure of the quality of the work of the entire team. “I like the teams”, launched this great faithful professional since he constantly works with the same producers, directors, screenwriters, stuntmen, etc. He loves all trades, learns everything, all the time, constantly. He questions, observes, asks questions in order to understand how the smallest cog in the industry works.
“I work on my projects for years. [...] I became a producer out of necessity, in order to give life to the films that I wanted, ”he said, almost apologizing for aiming for excellence and for having faith in cinema and the Art, before asserting, almost sentiently: "The by-product of Art is skill."
This is how, himself a confirmed pilot, he demanded that all the actors of Top Gun: Maverick know how to fly fighter planes... quite simply for the realism of the shots, because for him, it was unthinkable that the scenes in the air are filmed in a studio "cockpit". For five months, his colleagues Miles Tellier, Glen Powell, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman or Monica Barbaro took courses with the American Navy. It was Cruise who designed the training program, setting daily goals. At the end of each day, the actors had to fill out a form designed by the star. "I read all the forms, every night," said the actor and producer in the production notes given to the media.
Tom Cruise is curious about everything, he is everywhere, watching and giving his opinion because he is only happy when everything is perfect. "I can only give the best of myself," he said. He adds, shortly after: “I spend a lot of time working on a character, developing it.”
His attitude is the same for all his roles, on all the sets where he has been. Because the star is a "self-made man", a man who made himself, who learned by the sheer force of his will and his work from his role in The Last Clarion by Harold Becker in 1981. C It was there that he met the immense George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn. Like a sponge, he drank it all up, observed everything, questioned all his colleagues, spending hours watching the daily “rushes” to understand what made the quality of a scene.
“I am learning, I am still learning today, he repeated as obvious. These are skills that I have developed over the years. I'm an acrobatic pilot, I fly helicopters, I practice "speed flying" [Editor's note: a sport derived from paragliding], I take dance and singing lessons..." Because, beyond a love of sport and speed or a constant need for adrenaline, Tom Cruise thinks of moviegoers.
“I make my films for viewers, because I am first and foremost a viewer.” This profession of faith is his way of declaring his love for the big screen, "cinema is my love, my passion", he said in a serious tone of commitment. The recipe, constantly applied and refined throughout his life? “I don't want the public to see the work behind it. I just want him to discover the world. […] I want to give viewers a unique experience.”
Stardom, planetary success, the millions and billions of dollars of his productions do not seem to go to his head. "I never want to take this for granted," he said calmly, looking at the thousand participants in this master class with sparkling eyes of happiness. And we readily believe it.
Top Gun: Maverick hits screens across the province on May 27.