(Note: These photos are not from the event in question, but I thought it’d be fun to look back at some photos of Tom and Nicole, circa 1998. And look — it’s Brad Pitt narrowly escaping the clutches of Scientology!)
There’s a new book from former Universal executive Sally Van Slyke coming out soon called Wild Thymes: Catering to the Egos of the Hollywood Elite. During her fifteen-year run, she advanced from publicist to executive at the studio; as a result, she had more than one run-in with the likes of Tom Cruise. Of course, the book will also detail some stuff about other A-list celebrities as well, and Van Slyke will dish on why Robert Redford “hates her guts,” how Oliver Stone accused her of “personally f*&@ing my film,” and how Arnold Schwarzenegger once made derogatory statements about the Special Olympics. Oh, Ahnold.
More details about the book are available on the author’s website, but for now, let’s focus upon an interesting excerpt that deals with Tom Cruise. Van Slyke includes details about how Tom demanded that she attend Scientology classes (background on his unending involvement with the cult is available here) so that they could work better together. Also, there was an incident involving Tom’s insecurity about his stature. We all know how Tom is ultra-sensitive about his height and has developed an extreme love for wearing lifts to add up to four inches to his given height. Well there was one incident that Van Slyke witnessed when a paparazzo snapped a photo of Nicole Kidman removing her high heels, and Tom absolutely flipped out about it. Here are the amusing details:
Tom Cruise once told me that to work well with him I needed to study Scientology. He wanted me to take an introductory class at their Los Angeles Center. Pat Kingsley, the most renowned Hollywood publicist at the time, who had just signed the Cruise account, would take the class with me.
I was outraged by what I interpreted to be a subtle threat. I bluntly, mincing no words, informed Tom I wasn’t that interested in working well with him. My seemingly nonpolitical retort certainly brought the house of wrath down on my head. Tom called my Chairman. The Chairman wanted to know what the hell was wrong with me? He flatly told me that my job was to do anything I had to to make things copasetic with the talent.
Bull sh-t. Last time I read it, the Constitution gives me the right to the religion, faith or spiritual belief, or lack of, of my choice. I don’t force my beliefs on anyone and I don’t let anyone force theirs on me. After all, I’d been through this firestorm before.
Pat took the training. I refused.
Perhaps Tom Cruise is more then just a star. Perhaps he is a good actor. I confess I’m simply not the one to judge. I worked with Tom on several films in which he starred. I found him to be a calculated cunning man. The overworked smile, the jumping into crowds with such overwhelming manic exuberance. From my perspective it all seemed slightly condescending and staged. He was Mr. Wonderful on steroids. Or am I being too glib?
Behind the scenes it was much different. When you crossed the guy even slightly there was big trouble. One day at a ShoWest convention in Las Vegas a photographer caught Nicole Kidman and Tom backstage. He began to photograph the famous couple. Nicole was wearing heels. She realized that in the pictures she would appear a lot taller then Tom. We all knew Tom was obsessive about being rather short and compulsive about appearing taller then Nicole in pictures. So, Nicole immediately kicked off her shoes but the photographer managed to snap a picture of the move.
Whereupon, Tom freaked. He pulled me aside and commanded that I “get that roll away from him now” with unbridled rage beginning to brew.
I stepped in. “Excuse me, but Tom and Nicole would be glad to pose for you, however, we don’t want any unflattering photographs of their feet so please give me the roll of film in your camera and we can start again.”
This confirmed what the photographer already suspected. He had a shot that would result in a big pay day for him.
“You need to give it to me now or I’ll have to call security” I said sternly.
“Ah Sally, give the guy a break…” I couldn’t believe what Tom was saying. He was playing Mr. Nice Guy for the camera. What a jerk.
“No Tom, I feel strongly about this” I continued to insist, knowing full well that if I failed to get the roll of film my ass would be grass.
A tussle soon ensued. Tom ducked. The bodyguards came in, took the guy’s camera, pulled the roll out, exposed it and left it hanging there. All the while Tom laughed and apologized to the crowd of conventioneers that had now gathered glued to the sight. He actually patted the photographer on the back. Mano de mano.
“No hard feelings man. These publicists are so uptight” he said “gives them something to do.”
Yeah, right Shortie.
[From Wild Thymes]
I love how the author describes Tom as “Mr. Wonderful on steroids” because that’s a near-perfect description of his facade. Of course, Tom just can’t hide the crazy because, ultimately, he is the Unhinged, Lift-Wearing Midget for the ages. Poor Tom. He just needs to embrace the shortness like Al Pacino did in The Godfather movies. Short dudes can be really hot, but Tom’s over-the-top measures to look like a basketball player really kill any potential for sexiness.
Now here’s a trip back to memory lane and the set of Days of Thunder. You just know Tom was wearing mega-lifts for that movie.
Photos courtesy of WENN