Tom and I have known each other since he first starred in Taps. It was the very first gig for him (save for some hometown stage work) and it was the first voyeuristic moment for me, having lived in the town they were filming the movie in.
During some downtime, I approached Mr. Cruise and had a nice conversation about the film. He was green, innocent, and he had no idea that one day he’d be the huge star that he currently is.
Time and fame and money has done nothing to change the real man behind the mega-star image the media portrays and I recently got back together with Tom while he was in Los Angeles shooting some interviews for his upcoming Michael Mann movie, Collateral, opening this Friday. It was a day together without cameras or recording devices — although I did take the time to write down in my journal what we talked about, what we did and where we went over the course of Thursday, July 29th. What follows are my notes about that day. (Ed note: These notes may not be reprinted without prior permission.)
Thursday, July 29th 2004
8:30am: Woke up. Had Special K, orange juice.
9:02am: Showered, shaved, got dressed.
9:35am: In car, in transit to Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.
10:05am: Met Tom Cruise in lobby. He’s wearing a pair of khakis, a tight-fitting black shirt, a hat that reads “Navy” and dark glasses. I reach out to shake hands with the man but he pulls me tight into a warm embrace. “Good to see you, buddy,” he says. “Really good to see you. I don’t think we’ve seen each other since I was shooting Cocktail. Is that right?” I tell him that yes, that was the last time we saw each other. He wonders why we haven’t hooked up since then. I remind him about the Elisabeth Shue situation and he laughs with that wide-teethed, open mouthed trademark laugh. “You sure got yourself in trouble, didn’t you?” he wonders. “I never found her attractive at all,” he follows up. He pulls me close for another manly guy hug and pats me on the back. “Ready to go?” he asks. “Good to go,” I say.
10:18am: In his convertible Volkswagen Cabriolet (circa 1995), a rental. Tom’s driving. He loves to drive. “I love to drive these things,” he yells over the loud music on the radio. “No one would ever suspect that Tom Cruise would drive a Cabriolet, let alone a white one! I love it!” he screams again. He reaches over and pats my knee, in a manly way. “Just like flying a fighter plane,” he tells me as he takes an illegal U-turn and pulls into the Century City Shopping Center parking lot.
10:32am: Tom takes the ticket from the parking machine. “I got this one,” he generiously says.
11:02am: After getting lost in the depths of the parking garage, we emerge — entering Bloomingdales. While there, Tom tries on over 43 pairs of sunglasses, in an attempt to find the Ray Bans he wore in Risky Business. “I’ve been looking for those glasses ever since Nic stepped on my original pair from the movie. Man, I even called Joey Pants to see if he had any extra pairs since he snaked a few from the set. But no dice, brutha.” Tom calls me “brutha” and “buddy” and “compadre” for the rest of the day, for what reason I have no idea. When Tom cannot find the pair of glasses he wants, he gets a bit upset about it. Meanwhile, a young group of girls approach and ask for his autograph. “If you can find me a pair of Ray Bans, like the kinds I wore in Risky Business,” he tells them, “then you can have an autograph.” The girls go running off frantically and Tom laughs that trademark laugh and then stops to complain that he’s hungry.
12:32pm: We’re eating Baja Fresh (Mexican fast food) for lunch. Tom’s having a quesadilla with chicken and he’s lumping spicy salsa all over the top. I am having a bean and cheese burrito with black beans. Tom made me pay for lunch, he said he forgot his wallet. I ask him does that mean he isn’t paying for the parking fee and he tells me that obviously he doesn’t have his wallet, what do I expect him to do about it. I say, “Well, didn’t you say you “had it” when we pulled in the parking garage?” and he responds, “I said I got it, as in, I am pulling the ticket from the machine, not that I am paying for it.” He sulks for a moment, then tells me that if I am going to be cheap he will call his accountant and have them wire him money for the rest of the day if I can tell him where in the Century City Shopping Center he can have money wired. I tell him I don’t know. He says, “Well, at least I offered.”
1:13pm: Tom tries on a pair of pajamas at the Express for Men store. They are long, soft and remind me of those parachute pants things from the 80’s. He says, “I had a pair just like this while I was shooting Top Gun! Me and Anthony Edwards used to wear them to piss off Val Kilmer who refused to wear them because he felt they chaffed. But Anthony and I, we loved them. After a hard day shooting down virutal enemies in the sky, a pair of parachute pants…no pun intended…felt great on our recently shorn legs.” I gloss over his explanation, attempting to get out of the store and the dressing room area as quickly as possible.
1:45pm: I pay for the parking. Tom looks out the window the whole time.
2:17pm: Tom wants to go to a candle shop called “Illume” on 3rd street in West Hollywood. While there, he sweet talks the ladies behind the counter and gets over $500 in free candles. He asks me to carry them because his arms are sore from all the work he just did on “Collateral”. “I did all my own stunts,” he says. “And even if that idiot Matt Damon,” (who recently said on TV that any actor who says he did his own stunts obviously didn’t do his own stunts) “says I didn’t — well, just look at how much his movies have made worldwide and then look at mine and see if what he says matters.” The girls giggle at Tom’s logic but I do not, since I am the guy carrying the candles. After I load them into the back of the Cabriolet, Tom says he wants to go get coffee.
2:54pm: I am now driving. Tom is sitting in the back seat of the Cabriolet beacuse “he doesn’t want to get noticed at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf drive-thru.” We order Tom some kind of Chai tea with milk and sugar. The woman at the drive-thru window asks me who I’m the driver for. I say I’m not the driver for anyone. Tom kicks my seat. I repeat, “I am not the driver for anyone, although my asshole friend in the backseat prefers to be in the back seat.” Tom kicks the seat again, and this time I turn to him and I say loudly enough for the woman at the Drive-Thru to hear, “Tom Cruise — you just stop it, now!” The woman gasps when she realizes who she’s just seen.
3:23pm: The Cabriolet is parked on the side of the road. Tom is sulking and refuses to say a thing. I refuse to give in. Tom eventually says, “You know, I thought you got me. I thought you understood that when you’re as big a star as me, you can’t start talking to every person that you come in contact with. I thought you knew that the reason I let you hang out with me today was so that you would guard me from these things. For you to go out and just tell that woman who I was, you undermined my authority.” I tell Tom that he’s over-reacting and I wish I’d never met him on the set of “Taps”. He sulks some more. We sit quietly for what seems like an eternity but is in reality, only 56 minutes.
4:19pm: The only thing that will make the ultra-famous, ultra-Godlike Mr. Cruise feel better is if I drive him in his rented Cabriolet to the Burke Williams on Sunset Boulevard where he can get a full-body, hour long deep tissue massage. I ask him why I can’t just drive him back to the Four Seasons Hotel and have them drive him there in a car. He says that he can’t tell me why he doesn’t want to do that but if I just help him out he’ll make sure it’s worth my while. He mentions something about Penelope Cruz under his breath and since I remember how he helped me out with Elisabeth Shue, I go along for the ride.
5:19pm: He’s been in the massage room for about 30 minutes now. I drink the free water infused with cucumber and lime. It’s good. It’s the most relaxing moment of the day. I wonder to myself what has happened to Tom since he filmed “Taps”. He seems a bit more on edge. Maybe it’s all the pressure. The divorce from Mimi Rodgers? The divorce from Nicole Kidman? The break-up from Penelope Cruz? The fact that he’s never won an Oscar? I don’t know. I drink some more water infused with cucumber and lime.
5:45pm: Tom emerges from the Men’s Locker Room still wearing a towel. He wants to give me a hug to thank me for driving him here. People are watching. I refuse. I tell him to get dressed so we can leave and he repeats over and over again, “Help me, help you!” from “Jerry Maguire” and everyone laughs, then looks at me like I’m some killjoy. I hate this guy.
6:22pm: We are stuck in traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard, en route to the hotel. Tom wonders aloud why I had to take the most congested road in all of Los Angeles. I wonder aloud why he cares. He wonders aloud why he even said yes to a day with me. I wonder aloud that he must be extremely concerned that I plan on writing down everything that has happened today in my online journal. He wonders aloud how I’d feel about getting sued or slapped with a restraining order. I wonder aloud about the First Amendment and my rights to free speech. He wonders aloud something that I cannot reprint here.
7:02pm: I drop off Mr. Cruise at the front of the Four Seasons Hotel and do not get out of the car to accompany him inside. He extends his hand and says, “Just shake my hand — people are watching.” I shake his hand but feel dirty afterwards. He disappears inside and the valet at the front tells me to get my Cabriolet off the property because it’s “making people nervous.” I tell him it’s Tom Cruise’s rental car. He looks at me like I’m an idiot and tells me again to get the car away from the establishment. I do.
8:04pm: I leave the Cabriolet in the Macy’s Parking Lot and take a bus home.
9:32pm: I write my journal, and post-date it for today — a mere 3 days from the premiere of Tom’s new movie, “Collateral” in which he accosts a taxi-driver and makes him take him all over town while he creates havoc all over Los Angeles. I wonder why life and the movies are always so closely related.
10:40pm: I go to bed. Boy, what a day.