Tom Cruise's recent Covid-related rant on the set of his seventh "Mission: Impossible" film was published as an exclusive in The Sun on December 16, 2020, and quickly evolved into global news. Beset with delays due to the pandemic, the latest iteration of the well-worn franchise was shooting near London when Cruise allegedly spotted two crew members standing less than three feet apart viewing footage on a monitor.
The CDC's social distancing guidelines call for a minimum separation of six feet during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cruse demanded the crew remain at least two meters apart (over 6.5 feet).
The recording, posted in the above link, of Cruise's three-and-a-half-minute expletive-filled outburst at Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden, Herts, was said to have stunned those present.
Cruise's words well represent the anxiety of today's film business, an industry ravaged by Covid-19 restrictions. Movie theaters have been operating at 10% capacity or less, causing theater chains such as AMC to contemplate bankruptcy options and studios such as Warner Brothers to release their 2020 slate on HBO Max, including tentpoles such as Patty Jenkin's "Wonder Woman" sequel, day-and-date with their theatrical releases.
According to NBC News, "The audio recording is a clear sign that the actor is under pressure, industry professionals say. But it also raises questions about Hollywood's culture." Some have stated the success or failure of Cruise's latest "Mission: Impossible" sequel will go far in determining schedules and prudent protocols of studio product for the near future.
Filming of the seventh installment of Cruise's "Mission:Impossible," set to be released on November 19, 2021, has been a substantial risk on the part of its filmmakers and distributor, Paramount Pictures. Cruise is the star and lead producer of the film, which according to Reuters abandoned shooting in February of 2020 in Venice due to coronavirus concerns, and was ultimately moved to September 6.
Upon close examination, the Cruise recording itself is surprisingly clear. If captured by a distant cellphone, as appears likely, the question arises as to how and why, under such a scrupulously controlled and contained environment, any recording could have gone unnoticed.
Other observations and questions have arisen, on and off social media platforms:
- As one of the industry's biggest boxoffice stars for decades, Cruise's fabled control over his film sets cannot be understated and often equals that of his directors. If he is not actively in charge of his direct environment, others are assigned to the task.
- In 2005, Cruise appeared to lose control on Oprah Winfrey's couch when professing his love for Katie Holmes. Also in 2005, Cruise openly reprimanded then-"Today" host Matt Lauer as "glib" in response to questions regarding his religion's views on psychiatry. One argument is as a Scientologist with a practiced grip on his temperament, the theory of Cruise orchestrating the present rant with the specific agenda of releasing his voice to the anti-mask and social distancing crowd would not be unlike him.
- During the present outburst from a star of this magnitude, if held in one's hand the phone itself surely have been noticed. Assuming the recording was indeed from a cellphone, if the rant was authentic why would Cruise or any executive present allow the phone to remain in the open?
- If the phone was placed in a pocket and unseen, a recording would frequently scrape against clothing or result in a degree of interference. There is no interference apparent in this recording.
- What of the entity who leaked the recording? Has an internal investigation commenced as to the recording party? Nothing in this regard has yet been reported, which is certainly no proof of anything but does lead to further queries.
There is also no proof, of course, that Cruise's outburst was anything less than sincere. The film business, however, is one of image. A large percentage of the United States, particularly those who belief Covid precautions to be an affont to their civil liberties, has refused to heed the advice of doctors or the word of scientists as to how to curb new infections. If fan prognosticators are correct, Cruise wielded the star power he possesses to make a difference.
Conversely, if Cruise was not recorded and such an incident occurred, based on the industry's history of gossip the story may have been relegated to tabloid fodder. The fact that a recording does exist, and Cruise's publicist has not been returning calls per prior news reports, serves to add to any degree of skepticism.
Cruise peers such as George Clooney went on record agreeing with the actor, though he said he might have gone about the lashing differently. "I understand why he did it," the actor said on a recent episode of Howard Stern's Sirius radio show. "He didn't overreact because it is a problem." He went on to state, "I wouldn't have done it that big. I wouldn't have pulled people out. You're in a position of power."
Other celebrities disagreed, including a general social media commentary that actors and producers of color would not have been able to get away with such a response.
In today's edition of The Sun, five crew members of the new "Mission: Impossible" are reported to have quit the film based on a subsequent outburst by the star.
Nonetheless, whatever the rationale, Tom Cruise may have succeeded in opening some minds. Asking questions, considering the circumstances and who was involved, is something fans and detractors will continue to do, which may be parallel to the continuing curiosity of Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch all these years later.
File Photo Credit: Tom Cruise greets fans along Fori Imperiali Avenue in Rome on 10/13/2020, during a break from shooting the seventh installment of "Mission: Impossible." (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)