Tom Cruise


I was waiting for a call from Tom Cruise.
“Yeah, well, aren’t we all ?” you might think but I really was.

For days I had been going through the motions of getting an interview with Cruise to add a touch of glamour to my profile of Neil Jordan, who had just directed him in ‘Interview With The Vampire’.

I left messages, to no avail, with Cruise’s agent and his publicist, and had spoken (repeatedly) to his agent’s assistant, his publicist’s assistant and, for all I knew, his agent’s publicist, his publicist’s agent and his personal assistant’s personal assistant’s assistant.

Dispensing with the usual gushing promises PRs make, they had each spent precisely 2 seconds noting my request. This, after all, was Tom Cruise.

Days passed. No-one got back to me. I continued working on my Neil Jordan piece and congratulated myself on having wasted no time whtsoever thinking up questions to ask him. (I am actually not very interested in Tom Cruise, besides, I admit, enjoying the occasional outburst about his habit of grinning through every movie he’s ever been in; the Marti Pellow of movies in fact.)

Then, out of the blue, one of Tom’s “people” called to acknowledge my request and to “touch base with me”. Sounding disconcertingly like Hughie Green, he told me that Tom was “rilly rilly ex-sided” about talking to me, and that they were seeking “ a mutual window of opportunity” so that Tom and I could do the interview.

I told him that, for my part, all my windows were open (except perhaps for Palace-Man Utd, which threw him slightly), thanked him for calling, and noted that the ironies of ‘The Player’ had obviously made no impact on Hollywood whatsoever.

Next day, a woman with the broadest Brooklyn accent I have ever heard called up to ask if I would be in tomorrow between 2 and 6pm as there was the glimmer of a possibility that Tom (“Torm Ker-roose”) might become available to talk to me. Did I intend to be at home during that time ? she asked in a tone fixed somewhere between slight suspicion and outright scepticism. Sure, I said, why not ? My only appointments were watching Taz-mania on Children’s television and maybe changing the cat litter. I could be in for Tom.

Next day, needless to say, nothing. The hours passed. I decided (what the hell) to go ahead and watch Taz and change the cat litter anyway.

By 7 o’clock I was bored. I knew along, I thought, and went out.

When I came back, an hour and a half later, there were exactly 13 messages on my ansaphone. The first two were from friends. The next ten were from Tom’s people.

In the first, in the tones of someone working for the FBI or someone nonchalantly running the space programme, the man who had touched base with me says, “I was told you’d be standing by and available at this number. We’ll try to get through again.”

The next guy (presumably his assistant) anxiously says that he can’t speak too long in case he himself was actually preventing Tom from getting through (though how Tom would know that it was him stopping him from getting through is anyone’s guess.)

“Jim ?” says the lady from Brooklyn, menacingly, “We’re trying to get Torm Ker-roose for you. Call me back.”

Then again:
“Jim ? Jim ! We said we were going to be in and if we were going to go out, we were going to let us KNOW ABOUT IT.”

Next message:
“Jim, it’s one minute later, you’re still not there. Call me back.”

By now, the panic in her voice is audibly increasing. She reiterates that she “doesn’t KNOW what will HAPPEN if Tom rings and has to SPEAK to an ANSAPHONE. He’s not…going to be…very HAPPY,’ she concludes. “I just hope he’s rilly, rilly cool about it,” she says, meaning “…and doesn’t sack me”.

The last call is here again, saying, “Jim ? Jim ! JIM !!!! You’re not there. You said you would be there,” with a despair and anxiety bordering on pure aggression.

Then there is a silence and a male voice, much calmer, much cooler and over all, richer, says “Jim” and then pauses.
“Er, most avant-garde message, Jim,” says the voice, then laughs in disbelief. I recognise it just before the voice says “This is Tom Cruise”. I do not hear the rest. I am stunned, dazzled, by the way in which Tom Cruise says “This is Tom Cruise”. He says it with the superb smoothness and movie-star class that only Great movie-stars could ever attempt, with just the barest suggestion of a raised eyebrow and a half smile. Perfect. Purring. Some companies would pay a fortune for him to say it for them. And yet here he is saying it for me. For nothing !

“Well Jim, I don’t know what to tell ya,” he flounders, obviously wondering why someone of his status is talking to an ANSAPHONE but deciding to leave a message anyway.

“I am leaving town,” he says, with the faintly irritated, clipped military tones of somebody used to conducting negotiations with world powers, “in twenty minutes. So, look, I tried to call. Call my agent for me would ya. ? Take care man.”

I have missed Tom Cruise. I will go down in history as The Man Who Nipped Down The Shops While Tom Cruise Was Calling Him.

For Cruise, on the other hand, it will go down as The Day I Spoke To A Member of The Public’s Ansaphone. Like one of the Royal Family chatting with one of the unemployed (how charming). He is probably still dining out on it.

In the end, though, I think you find out more about Cruise from his message than you would from reading an interview full of the usual platitudes about how great it was to work with Neil Jordan. Just the fact that he thinks my ansaphone phone message is avant-garde
(it’s a bit of hip-hop in the background and me saying ‘leave a message please’) makes me like him. Poor lamb.

God knows what he would made of my message of John Motson going into orbit over an Eric Cantona goal, or the time I had my version of the theme-tune from ‘The Bill’. Still, at least he didn’t get Call Waiting and have to endure that stuck up cow from British Telecom telling him ‘the other person knows you are waiting’ over and over.

In fact, on the whole I like Tom alot more after not talking to him. (I might go out for all of my phone interviews.) Most of all, I like the way he laughs when he starts to comprehend that I am actually not in, and the way he says, “take care’” with consummate sincerity, real concern about the mental and physical state of someone who would actually go out when he is about to call them. What a guy.

Tom’s been in town this week, as you’ll probably know, so perhaps he’ll call again. How about it Tom ? Why not give it a shot Tom ? We could chew the cud, reminisce. I’ll be in this time. I promise.