An Interview with Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer
By Wilson Morales
December 22, 2008
With all the hoopla surrounding films that are vying for critics awards and a potential Oscar nominations, one film that will come out simply to entertain is getting more attention because of its main star, Tom Cruise. Every actor goes through a rough patch of sorts; whether it be on or off the camera, and Cruise has been there, but he always manages to get back into the spotlight.
In working with Bryan Singer, director of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Superman Returns’, the two of them are the star focus of ‘Valkyrie’
Cruise heads an international cast as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic German officer who led the heroic attempt, but failed, to bring down the Nazi regime and end the war by planting a bomb in Hitler's bunker.
In speaking with Blackfilm.com, both Cruise and Bryan Singer gives a detailed account of working together, working on this film, and the media surrounding it.
Tom, do you see this as some kind of a comeback and what was it about Claus Von Stauffenberg that made it so irresistible to you?
Cruise: I don't really see it that way. I've just been making movies. I had my daughter. She was born and I've been making films. 'Tropic Thunder'.
A golden globe nomination.
Cruise: Yeah, that's fun. That was incredible. You know what, when I read the script I first thought about how incredibly suspenseful this was, really a great thriller. Bryan is someone that I've always wanted to work with since I saw his film 'The Usual Suspects'. We actually met at the premiere of 'Mission Impossible', the first one. I said, 'I want to work with you.' Then when I put the script down I thought, 'This can't be true, this story. How much of this actually true?' From sitting down with Bryan then and find out that it's a true story I just thought it was great. I'd never heard it before. I wanted to work with him and so off we went.
Do you think this is an important movie in terms of it coming out at the same time as other holocaust movies? It has a different angle than the others. Is it important in the sense that people should look at a country like Germany not in the but in it's parts?
Cruise: It's definitely an important story because, I mean, I didn't know about it, but I also want to entertain audiences. That was a bonus for the film, but it's something that Bryan and I, all of us, have spoken about it. It's important to know, of course, that it's not everyone. It's everybody who felt that way and fell into that Nazi ideology. Have you spoken with Peter Hoffman? That to me was surprising. I grew up wanting to kill Nazi's, wanting to kill Hitler. As a child you're looking at it and you think, 'Why didn't someone just shoot him?' To take this story, this massive and comprehensive story that we could've made a five hour, a ten hour mini-series out of it, Bryan was always very specific about what this film was going to be. This was a suspense thriller about killing Hitler.
Singer: It was not a holocaust movie. The movie happens to take place, the subject matter that's coming out around this time. That's a coincidence, but this is far from a holocaust movie. It's a conspiracy thriller about assassinating Hitler. As Tom was just saying, the bonus is that it happens to be true. It happens to be gripping. Even things that you might think are film conventions, Hollywood conventions that happen in the movie, some of those twists and turns, those actually really did happen.
Cruise: We spent months working on this. Bryan spent more time than that, but when Bryan wanted me to come onboard and we started working with Chris [McQuarrie], Bryan and Nathan [Alexander], every time we'd start talking about the Holocaust and the different characters and trying to put as much into that story as possible, Bryan always went back to, 'This is a piece of entertainment. This is a suspense thriller about killing Hitler.' So throughout the film the more you know about the history and you study it there are so many moments that we were able to put in there, with his children. The moment where his daughter is saluting him. Of course on that day, July 20th, when you know the story his son was indoctrinated into The Hitler Youth. Knowing Stauffenberg who despised the Nazi's, as a parent looking at this, these little moments like that Bryan wanted to seed in there, but never varying from the picture that he wanted to make. His daughter saluting him and him not being able to have that conversation with his children. Down in the bunker and looking at his family, the tension falls into both him thinking about Valkyrie, he has to come up with the idea, but little moments like that for people who understand the history are there. I think that most Germans who know the story intimately and thoroughly they understand that. It's also there for a broad audience. We wanted to bring this a movie to a much broader audience.
Can you talk about your idea of success? Being some of the biggest structures in Hollywood, is it financial or health?
Singer: Freedom to be able to do the work that you want to do. Sometimes that comes with money, a financial freedom. Sometimes it comes with trust, having the trust of the people in your community, your creative community. Either of these things can give you creative freedom. If you're at a point, as a director, I can't speak as an actor, but as a director, if you're at a point that you can do what you want to do creatively then you're successful, really successful and that's a blessing.
Cruise: I have to agree with Bryan, as far as making films. I'm going to do this for the rest of my life and to have the ability to make the kinds of films that I've been able to make and work with the kinds of people that I've been able to work with, I just love movies. It's something that I've told people before, when I was making 'Taps' or 'Risky Business', there were moments where you're there and you think, 'I just want to enjoy these moments because I don't know if it's going to end right here.' Then there was a certain moments when I had the opportunity to work with Paul Newman, to work with Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman and [Martin] Scorsese and Oliver Stone and [Steven] Spielberg, the people that I've been able to work with – Bryan Singer – and so that kind of creative freedom that I've been privileged to be able to have. On that level I'm really proud of that. Also, I know there have been a few things written about this film before people have seen it, just a couple [Laughs], and we're going through it –
Singer: We read them all and out loud to our folks.
Cruise: There have been so many times that I've been through this and certainly I think the internet has accelerated a lot of this kind of drama out there. So there's a perception out there versus what we're doing artistically. Even I think when people see the film, even our friends who have seen the film are like, 'Oh, this is a suspense thriller!'
Singer: I'm like, 'Yeah. What did you think we were making? Soup?'
Cruise: And I don't know what to say, but so many times in my career people have said, 'Well, why are you doing that?' That's even back as early as when I was going to do 'Top Gun' or 'Born on the Fourth of July', the things that Dustin and I went through on 'Rain Man'. On that film we went through four directors and it took two years to make. Of course 'Interview with a Vampire' was another one. I've always chosen things that I felt would be challenging, but I've always wanted to entertain an audience. That's what I feel very privileged to do. I feel that I've been fortunate in having that kind of success. I mean, personal success for me is raising my kids, my family. That, as much as I love movies, has always been the priority. I also feel happy that my family is healthy and happy and doing well. That is the most important thing and always has been.
This movie is so good. Tom cruise and bryan singer are involved. Why has this movie not come out to a greater December release and handled somewhat mysteriously?
Singer: Originally, it had to do with the schedule of completion. It had to do with that. It was going to come out a lot earlier, but then there was a sequence, the Tunisia sequence which took time. I ended up scouting Jordan for location and then Spain and those two locations just didn't work out, both aesthetically and economically and then we figured we'd just see what movie we had when we got home, cut it all together and then go to California where the location we found looks far more like Tunisia. We'd have the equipment and resources and we'd sort of drop and pick up. Then that moved our intentions of the release date. Then it was a crowded Christmas and we didn't know where we were at in finishing the movie. Is that as you remember it?
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