Cult of Tom Cruise woos Cannes: Last action hero can still take fans’ breath away
- Cannes' crowds were screaming for Tom Cruise at Top Gun: Maverick premiere
- Fans Palais de Festivals streets as tickets for film went for 500 euros
- Cruise arrived looking dapper in a black tuxedo with matching bow tie
The crowds in Cannes were screaming for Tom Cruise on the Croisette – or should it be the Cruisette – last night as the actor launched Top Gun: Maverick.
Fans choked the streets around the Palais de Festivals, held back by an unusually large number of police.
Many had waited for hours in the blazing Riviera sun in the hope of catching a glimpse of the star walking up the fabled red steps.
Tickets for the premiere – and even the press conference before it – were changing hands for up to 500 euros.
A host of celebrities made their way along the red carpet before Cruise arrived, looking dapper in a black tuxedo with matching bow tie.
Tom Cruise arrives for the screening of 'Top Gun: Maverick' during the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival, in France
He made sure to spend ten minutes greeting some of his supporters, signing autographs and posing for selfies.
He walked the red carpet alongside his Top Gun co-star Jennifer Connelly, 51, who wore an off-the-shoulder silver leaf dress.
The pair frequently offered reassuring hands to one another and were pictured gazing into each other’s eyes as they took in the electric atmosphere.
Miss Connelly is married to fellow actor Paul Bettany with whom she shares two children.
Cruise was handed an honorary Palme d’Or for his lifetime acting achievements shortly before he headed into the theatre to watch the film.
The actors were also treated to an incredible fly-past in which eight fighter jets zoomed above the red carpet twice and expelled smoke in blue, white and red.
The spectacle was no ordinary Cannes appearance but rather an exercise in celebrity clout, carried out by Cruise, 59, who is widely regarded as the world’s last remaining true A-list movie star.
L to R: Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Jennifer Connelly, Tom Cruise and Greg Tarzan Davis all star in latest Top Gun
Film executives hope that he will help to make movies and Cannes relevant again, with Top Gun: Maverick bringing cinemas roaring back after the pandemic closed them all and the streaming revolution threatened to polish off the industry altogether.
Cruise waded into the streaming-versus-cinemas debate when asked if Paramount might have considered asking him to release Top Gun – delayed for two years by the pandemic – on television.
‘That’s not happening,’ he said with a rueful laugh. ‘That is never going to happen.’ His latest film has been met with almost universal acclaim.
Before the premiere there was a photocall where 1,000 journalists in the Theatre Debussy were played clips of Cruise’s movie career to date, before a Q&A session.
French TV journalist Didier Allouch affected outraged excitement when he asked about the actor doing his stunts.
‘You say that you prepare, but you are still risking your life monsieur! Why do you do it really?’
After a satisfied chuckle Cruise replied: ‘No-one asks Gene Kelly “why do you dance, why do you do your own dancing?”’
He added that he asks himself the question: ‘How can I entertain them? What can I do?’
Cruise recounted the story of leaping off the roof of his house, aged four, carrying a bed-sheet in the hope of executing a parachute jump.
‘It’s that moment when you jump and think “this is not going to work, this is terrible”. I hit the ground so hard... luckily for me it was wet. My face went over my feet just as my ass hit the ground, and I saw stars. Then I thought “oh my gosh, my mom is going to kill me” because the sheet was dirty.’
Cruise spent a full hour expounding almost without drawing breath about his devotion to his craft.
The French national air display team, Patrouille de France, performs above the Festival Palace, as the cast of the film arrives for the screening of the film Top Gun
He said that he had telephoned cinema owners who were shut during the pandemic to reassure them that he had Mission Impossible 7 and Top Gun coming up to save them.
He added that he likes to sneak into cinemas with a baseball cap on, and see the audiences reactions to films.
He also claimed that he remembers every take of every movie he has ever made, what lens was used, how it was lit and so forth.
Considering that perfectionist Stanley Kubrick took two and a half years to shoot Eyes Wide Shut, that must be one amazing memory.
Does he ever fear obsolescence? ‘I always know there is another story,’ he said. Cannes is the land of hype and glory where stars often abandon their dignity.
Jerry Seinfeld memorably ziplined from the Carlton Hotel to the beach dressed as a giant bee for his Bee Movie.
But for Cruise, who plays a veteran test pilot who comes out of retirement for one last dangerous mission, there was none of that. He came, he saw, he conquered.