Variety: Tom Cruise is a control freak who surrounds himself with sycophants

'The Mummy' New York Premiere - Arrivals

I was somewhat surprised that the Tom Cruise story earlier this week was such a popular post. My general theory is that it’s often more fun to talk about a movie bombing than a movie exceeding expectations. Tom Cruise’s latest franchise gambit was The Mummy, which opened domestically and internationally last weekend. It did well internationally, especially in Asia (where Tom Cruise is still beloved). The Mummy did poorly at the American box office though, and the reviews were pretty terrible. Some after-action insiders even suggested that Cruise is in the midst of a “slow motion career meltdown” and soon studios won’t even want to invest in trying to make another Cruise franchise happen.

Well, here’s an addendum to all of that – shock of shocks, Cruise is actually getting a big chunk of the blame for The Mummy’s failures. Very rarely does a star of Cruise’s caliber have to eat sh-t publicly when a film bombs (and The Mummy didn’t even bomb in the grand scheme of things!). Usually, everybody else involved with the film will fall on their swords and “save” the big-name movie star. Not this time. Variety has a bitchy/dishy piece about how The Mummy’s failures are all on Tom – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Tom Cruise had an “excessive” amount of control over The Mummy: Cruise “had an excessive amount of control, according to several people interviewed. The reboot of ‘The Mummy’ was supposed to be the start of a mega-franchise for Universal Pictures. But instead, it’s become a textbook case of a movie star run amok…. several sources close to the production say that Cruise exerted nearly complete creative oversight on “The Mummy,” essentially wearing all the hats and dictating even the smallest decisions on the set.

The studio let it happen, contractually: Universal, according to sources familiar with the matter, contractually guaranteed Cruise control of most aspects of the project, from script approval to post-production decisions. He also had a great deal of input on the film’s marketing and release strategy, these sources said, advocating for a June debut in a prime summer period.

How much it really cost: With terrible reviews, “The Mummy,” which insiders say cost as much as $190 million to make and more than $100 million more to market and release worldwide, may struggle to make its money back.

Cruise exerted control at every level: He hand-selected Alex Kurtzman, a relatively untested director for The Mummy, someone who had no experience directing a big-budget action film, and someone who was mostly known as a producer/writer. Sources say Cruise behaved as the director as Kurtzman “struggled to adjust to scope of the project,” and Cruise would “often dictate the major action sequences and micro-managing the production, according to sources.”

Cruise hand-selected familiar screenwriters: He brought in Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman, two of his close friends, to basically rewrite the role into Standard Issue Tom Cruise Hero Role and they bulked up his role while weakening the role of the Girl Mummy. Universal wasn’t happy but they went along with it.

After all that, he worked on editing too: He brought in his favorite editor and “spent time in the editing suite overseeing the cutting, which everybody agreed wasn’t working. On the lot, there were differences of opinions about whether Cruise’s directions were improving a picture that had been troubled from its inception or whether they were turning a horror film into a Cruise infomercial.”

[From Variety]

Yeah, I believe it. Even though Variety includes some flattering quotes about how Tom was actually doing the best he could to save an already-troubled production, the general vibe is that a lot of people are, behind-the-scenes, saying that it’s all Cruise’s fault. But after reading all of Variety’s reporting, I have to say this: Tom was only doing what the studio let him get away with. They didn’t have to give him complete control. It’s not 1999 and this isn’t Mission Impossible. People at Universal are trying to cover their asses by saying it’s all on Tom.

'The Mummy' New York Premiere - Arrivals

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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94 Responses to “Variety: Tom Cruise is a control freak who surrounds himself with sycophants”

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  1. Becky says:

    Wow, what a surprise.

    I saw a documentary about Scientology – or specifically about dianetics which is the technique they use – and it appears to attract people with control issues.

  2. lightpurple says:

    Tom Cruise? A control freak? SHOCKED! I am absolutely floored! Who could have guessed?

    The only thing that interested me about this movie was how Annabelle Wallis & Sofia Boutella landed in this mess.

  3. Jem says:

    Seems to me that mummy movies are a stupid idea anyway in 2017.

    • tmot says:

      LOL, right? OMG A MUMMY! RUN AWAY!!!!!

      Even I am unafraid of mummies.

      I also think it’s funny that Variety says Tom was wearing all/too many “hats” as “being hatted” is a Scientology term for being trained for something… sounds like ol’ Tom may not have been “fully hatted” for what he was attempting to pull off.

  4. Erin says:

    In other news: Water wet, sky blue.

  5. nemera34 says:

    Tom has been this way for years and these people knew it and didn’t have a problem and outlets and print media like this weren’t saying a word. Now that he has had some films under perform they are coming out of the shadows. If The Mummy had been a blockbuster they would be saying how Tom Cruise is the Last Great Movie Star. This kind of Hypocrisy stinks and stinks big.

    • Neelyo says:

      Yep. A waning movie star is an easy target for the studio’s miscalculation. I wonder how Tom is handling this amount of negative press.

      • Mia4s says:

        If his devotion to his cult continues he’s busy firing people around him who are obviously “supressive” and caused the movie’s failure. It’s never his fault, Xenu told him so!!

      • nemera34 says:

        @Mia
        I’m not saying that Tom is not to blame. He bares the weight of this too. But again Tom didn’t just join Scientology yesterday. He has been in that Cult for over 25 years. And everyone knew it and didn’t care because the movies he made were big money makers. No one just woke up and found their conscious. They just see the money drying up. And they should own the reason. If Tom’s next movie makes a lot of money then see what the headlines are then. I think they will be quite different or slanted.

      • Carrie says:

        This is why it’s not a good idea to be up on a pedestal, whether others put you there or you did it yourself. Life moves on, people shift preferences, and the only way to go with a pedestal is down.

        I don’t like Tom Cruise anyway but I’m not sure he’ll handle a tumble very well from a psychological viewpoint.

  6. Izzy says:

    In other words, water is wet.

    The studio made its deal with this devil, they knew EXACTLY what they were getting into. If it bites them in the rear, they should blame themselves. Oh, that and no one asked for this movie to be remade. They just want to build their own “universe” a la Marvel and DC.

    Wonder Woman, you ain’t.

  7. wheneight says:

    The guy is such a creepy asshole. I hope his career is over after this movie, I’m so sick of him and his weird religion.

  8. Jenns says:

    Tom Cruise made a movie to make Tom Cruise look like Tom Cruise.

    And I wonder how many people he brought in were Scientologists.

  9. Kath says:

    Such a strange, strange little man.

    Side note: I can’t wait for the 2nd season of Leah Remini’s show!

  10. third ginger says:

    I love CB and some gossip [ I do not go on other gossip sites] But VARIETY is a trade paper. That is serious business in the entertainment world. Some kind of re-evaluation of Cruise is going on, and not just because of THE MUMMY’s sluggish box office.

    • Steph says:

      That’s what I thought. Variety talking Sh!t about Tom Cruise is serious.

    • Mia4s says:

      I think once Vanity Fair (also not a tabloid in the least) basically confirmed he was auditioning for a new wife (!!!!!) it was clear he’d lost any control he once had over the press. I expect more of these stories to come.

      • Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

        Things started going wrong for him PR wise the min he sacked his long term publicist Pat Kingsly (who is a legend in HW and the entertainment press feared her). It wasn’t him who controlled the press and his image – it was her.

      • Bug says:

        Ha ha ha ha! I have to see the Vanity Fair article.

        I am feeling the most delicious schadenfreude about the Cruise criticism. I am betting that people have been fed up with his bullshit for a long time–I remember people complaining about the fact that he had some people pushing Scientology on the set of one of Spielberg’s films, for example–and now they finally get to speak out because Cruise is losing prestige and power.

        He sneered at Matt Lauer, he insulted Brook Shields regarding her post-partum depression, and on and on and on. That kind of arrogance invites payback.

    • lucy2 says:

      Good point, this is a major trade mag making these statements.

    • Carrie says:

      Yep.

      I thought of a recent post by Lainey re: Brad Pitt in similar regard. Was kind of stunned to see the criticisms of Pitt by her in particular. So, yeah, the old guard of actors seems to be under re-evaluation.

      • Ramona says:

        Lainey is a blogger not an insider. And she is barely a blip in the larger scheme. Also she is known to fan out on some celebs and it affects her coverage, readers know and accept this. Brad is still very much a trade paper darling. If I am not mistaken it is his ex who is getting questionable coverage in insider publications like Hollywood Reporter. Remember they did that piece about losing her studio mojo and something about her pre production interference killing a number of projects?

        The star system is definitely dead but this piece on Tom speaks to something much deeper. Some very powerful people wanted to take him down a peg or two.
        (Which to be clear pleases me, he is number 2 of a cult that destroys lives!)

    • Magnoliarose says:

      Definitely but it was coming down the pipe. He has done some crappy things to people and the cult has tarnished him permanently. Scientology is losing members and losing influence in Hollywood. They were ruthless and as the darling he is treated like a king and now lives in a Scientology bubble. He is very very tight with David Miscavige who is an evil abusive dictator. They were feared. Now they aren’t and people are free to talk and maybe get some payback too.

  11. Ellen Degeneres and Portia di Rossi are divorcing and it has long been alleged that Ellen is controlling and possessive. When celebs are denied nothing they begin to live in an alternate universe.

  12. Singtress says:

    *claps and rubs hands together with anxious glee*
    I cannot WAIT to read those piece.

    Oh
    Yeah…and…:
    Variety: you in danger, girl.

  13. Aren says:

    I’m sure he’s a control freak, but that’s obviously not the reason why the movie bombed.
    I’ve actually been reading he’s the only reason why it’s being watched in other countries.
    It would be nice to see the end of his Church and all, but I’m not sure if there’s any fairness in this.

  14. rachel says:

    Hmm. Variety is a serious publication, pulling a heat piece like this on Tom Cruise is sign of serious troubles for him. I think it is time for someone in his entourage to tell him that the time of franchise is over or at least that he need to diversify his résumé. I think everyone had enough of seing him running away in all of his movies in the last decade. I hope for his carrer that the comedy he has with Domnhall Gleeson is gonna be good.

  15. Saskia says:

    There seems to be a growing divide between international and American audiences on the topic of Tom Cruise. The former loves him and the latter feels ambivalent at best. I personally enjoy his movies. Whatever his personal faults may be, it is clear that he is dedicated and driven in the work environment.

    • Kate says:

      His personal faults include using slaves.

    • doofus says:

      his “personal faults” include pledging fealty to a cult that abuses (and allegedly has killed) people, enslaves their members, separates families, tries to prevent people from leaving and stalks and harasses those who do.

      so, enjoy his movies and know that one third of all the money he makes goes to the cult. know that you are contributing to the cult’s survival.

      • third ginger says:

        Everyone should see the documentary GOING CLEAR. Some things are just not excused by star power.

      • Tia says:

        I really hope you are this on point about rejecting anything any Wahabist Muslim produces as well? How about any Fundamentalist Christian sect?

        Its no different

      • doofus says:

        not exactly sure of your point, Tia.

        I don’t know of any Wahabist Muslim or Fundamentalist Christian who makes movies like Cruise does.

        but I didn’t see or encourage anyone to see that terrible movie that Kirk Cameron made about saving xmas, and he’s kind of a fundy.

        so…feel better now?

      • chaine says:

        fundamentalist christian equivalent would be Mel Gibson with his crazy little retro-Catholic church. And, like with Tom, bajillions of people don’t care and still fawn over the guy and go to his movies.

      • Saskia says:

        Thanks for the documentary suggestion third ginger. Tom Cruise is clearly very charismatic and it seems like that trait and his money would make him the ideal figure head for any cult. That said, if such a person would decide to break with the cult, say because his/her eyes have been opened, would that even be possible? As far as I understand, cults don’t just let their members walk away. Now I’m wondering if his ‘career’ isn’t at this point his defense against the truth of his personal life. Maybe I was wrong? Could it be that he is not so much driven to entertain people than to run from the truth catching up to him?

      • Bethy says:

        @saskia, I lived in the Clearwater area for many years, the religious hub of the Church, and they own most of the city these days. They planted people on the city council, in law enforcement and on the school board (although most Scientologitsts don’t use public school but their own schools). Once walking down the street looking for a coffee shop, I was told by a Sea Org member to “get off their sidewalk.” As if they own the streets. They are very much in your face and combative. Most people in Clearwater hate the Church.

        To Tom Cruise. With that sort of indoctrination, Cruise isn’t going to listen to outsiders. Their philosophy: attack, never defend. Plus, he’s Number Two in line after Dear Leader Miscaviage. With that sort of adulation and power, he’s never going to leave the cult. People need to realize that Tom Cruise, the actor, is just that acting to the public on press tours. In reality, by being involved with Co$ he shows his true colors that he supports the separation of families (disconnection), slave labor (he’s had free work on his houses, motorcycles, RVs, etc) by Sea Org members who are paid about $50 a WEEK after working 80 hours. Plus the policies of forced abortions and not allowing members to report sexual assaults to the police.

        Co$ is evil. Tom could Google any of this, get out, like Leah Remini, but he chooses not to. To me that says he knows and doesn’t care.

      • Saskia says:

        @Bethy The extreme duality that you are referring to in Tom Cruise is unsustainable and the cracks are showing. If he is as integral to the cult as you say, it is not far-fetched to say that if he falls, they fall, at least to some extent. So, I’m rethinking his movies because based on the info provided it doesn’t seem worth it.

      • Jaded says:

        @Bethy – great points, and Co$ also has hundreds of hours of taped “audits” they would leak if TC tried to leave, and it would be very embarrassing and possibly career-ending. That’s how they controlled Nicole Kidman – say one word against Co$ and we’ll release your audits and don’t even think of maintaining a close relationship with your kids. They are an evil organization run by a total psychopath. Sorta like the White House.

      • Magnoliarose says:

        @Jaded they have tapes on John Travolta too. He tried to leave but they reprogrammed him and dragged him back in line.

      • Liv says:

        ALL high profile defectors have disputed this logic that Tom and Travolta are kept in by audit tapes. Even Leah as laughed this off on her show. Those two are not victims. They are beneficiaries of unparalleled adulation and they are addicted to it. They are true believers, even more so than the regular SeaOrg member who may remain because they have no money or loved ones in the real world.

        There is NOTHING the Church could successfully throw at a departing superstar. They are extremely unpopular and their tactics have been exposed. Travoltas PR warmachine would destroy them easy and it would actually revive his popularity and career. Dont fool yourself. They are there because they want to be.

      • Bethy says:

        @Liv, thank you. I’ve never believed the narrative that Tom and John are forced to stay because they are afraid their secrets will be leaked (i.e. sexuality rumors). Paul Haggis, Oscar nominated director, ‘blew,’ as have other celebrities (Lisa Marie Presley, Jason Beghe) and no tapes on them have been released.

      • AnnaKist says:

        So many great points from lots of posters. Cruise was down here in Australia recently, doing promotional stuff. We were watching one of the morning shows to check the weather and traffic reports, and soon after, he came on. Betty, you are so right: when he’s “on”, he’s “on”. He was working, so he was in actor mode, which I think a lot of people forget. The men were all bro-matey, and the women were embarrassingly flirtatious with him. They all made me cringe with their arse-licking. How bloody thick could these TV people be? I said to my daughter, “I could never do their job. There are so many famous people I don’t like, that I’d be telling them to naff off with their crappy movies, music and personalities, I’d get fired on the first day.” And he, in particular, gives me the creeps on top the hate I have for him. He’s an utterly horrible little man. Ugh.

  16. SusanneToo says:

    And in other breaking news, the sun rises in the East!!

  17. smcollins says:

    There was a promo for The Mummy on FB and a lot of the comments were about not seeing the movie, because supporting a TC movie by extension supports the Co$. Oh, man, the counter comments by obvious Scientologists were insane! Attacking Christianity & Catholicism, calling people uneducated, pathetic and failures at life. They would refer to themselves as pageons, never actually calling themselves a Scientologist (or straight-up denying it) but it was so obvious from there attacks toward commenters making statements against the “church.” It was pretty crazy.

  18. msw says:

    And water is wet.

    Won’t see the Mummy. Not going to support a guy who uses slave labor.

  19. L84Tea says:

    How is Tom Cruise still getting parts in any movies?? Am I the only one who already knows that any movie with him as the star is going to either bomb or just barely break even? He’s ruined his career with his own cray-cray.

  20. spidey says:

    And the pope is a catholic and bears **** in the woods

  21. Deanne says:

    Of course he’s a control freak. He uses slave labour on a daily basis and thinks he’s got super human powers because he’s OT8 in his nut job cult. He hasn’t heard the truth from anyone in years. This being in Variety means a lot.

  22. lucy2 says:

    If he really took control of so many aspects of it, then yes, he should bear some of the blame.

    I will say it’s unusual to see an A-list male star called out like this. Actresses often get blamed when a film does poorly, even if they’re just acting in it, but the guys rarely do.

    Unbelievable that Universal handed $200 million (and the start of their franchise) over to an inexperienced director.

    • third ginger says:

      I think it is a culmination of his slow domestic box office decline. He was once one of the few bankable movie stars. Also, as discussed on a thread several days ago, there are certainly questions about why Cruise keeps clinging to a “cocky kid” persona. TOP GUN reboot, anyone?

    • Deering says:

      lucy2–yeah, just the “choice” of director is proof positive this whole Dark Universe thing has not been thought through. Why in God’s name would you pick an utterly untested director to handle a FX/action-heavy tentpole of a difficult-to-launch franchise (that really shouldn’t be a franchise from jump.) Hell, even Joss Whedon would have had an uphill battle here. And for a star to call this many shots invariably means a leadership vaccum at the studio.

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        You’re right, it really is the studio’s fault.

        I think they’re being sued by Warner Bros. because WB owns the rights to DC’s “Dark Universe” series, which predates Universal’s use of “Dark Universe.” And Universal cannot use “Monster Universe” because Legendary already owns that one for the Godzilla/Kong universe. I guess Universal could call theirs a “Horror Universe”? Except they don’t want to make horror movies, only action movies. I guess that’s what happens when you come late to the party — all the good names are taken.

        Also, I question why they want to start a shared universe with actors who are already so old, especially if they are trying to copy Marvel and make, basically, superhero-type action movies. Depp? Cruise? Crowe? Younger audiences don’t want to see these guys trying to be action heroes.

        But at least Jurassic World made a lot of money. Maybe they should stick to that franchise instead.

      • third ginger says:

        Good overview, Mrs. K. I am 64, and I don’t want to see those guys as action heroes.

  23. Elgin Marbles says:

    I think the last role where he actually embodied a character who wasn’t 99% who he imagined himself to be – aka teflon hero or hero who makes a comeback – was in The Color of Money, as well as some of Eyes Wide Shut, when Kubrick was actually able to direct him.

  24. chaine says:

    There are so many people that do not follow gossip websites or the scientology controversy and just don’t care. They know what they are getting when they go to a Tom Cruise movie, lots of action, explosions, some amazing stunt work. And that’s what they like to see. I can’t tell you how many times my partner has suggested, “Let’s go see Mission Impossible Number 6″ or whatever one was out, and each time I reply no, and why I don’t want to give money to a Tom Cruise film, any more than a Woody Allen film, and it’s like boycotting an actor or director for these reasons is foreign concept to my partner.

  25. holly hobby says:

    Yeah I believe all of it. I know he had a successful production company with Paula Wagner but I really believe the brains of that operation was Paula, not him. Paul quit right around the time Tiny Tommy started insulating himself with the cult staff.

    Sorry he should be doing dad roles? What he can’t relate?

  26. Turtle says:

    As others have mentioned upthread, it’s serious business when a trade paper like “Variety” goes in on someone of Cruise’s caliber. But did anyone see that Vulture listicle about 19 stories about how awesome and cool and nice TC can be? What is going ON in his world…?

  27. Margo S. says:

    I agree. Universal is at fault. You give crazy scientology loving Tommy full control, you’re going to have a bad time.

  28. Ruyana says:

    I never go to a movie he’s in. I can’t stand him and I can’t wait for him to retire. His ego is too big even for the big screen.

  29. Sage says:

    What actor/actress will sign on to this Dark Universe knowing Universal will publicly toss you under the bus if the movie bombs?!

    Look out Johnny! And, Jolie needs to decline Bride because if that movie bombs they will roast her more than usual.

    • Deering says:

      I’m betting now Universal will rush BRIDE into production–or start a major PR/casting push on it. It’s really the only card they have to play, for it’s the most promising-sounding of the DU slate–and if it’s a critical/commercial hit, it could do for the DU what WW did for the DCU.

  30. Plibersek says:

    Ah well. He still has the Jack Reacher franchise. The first two were pretty good.

  31. Deering says:

    If Universal had any sense, they would let the Blumhouse folks handle the DU problem. (Or they’d write the whole thing off as the lousy idea it is.) Blumhouse has a lock on making inexpensive horror hits; as well, it is smart enough to option terrific new horror novels instead of redoing classics for the zillionth time.

  32. Joannie says:

    I think he looks really good for his age and I like his movies. Dislike Scientology or any sort of religion for that matter. Hogwash!!

  33. The Original G says:

    A “control freak who surrounds himself with sycophants.” Me too, I just get paid less.

  34. detta says:

    When I saw the recent pr photo for the DU franchise I sat there shaking my head. Depp and Cruise for starters come with a whole truckload of problems each. Crowe and Bardem can be fine actors but are entirely wrong here and let’s face it, sort of past their prime as spearheads for that kind of franchise. I thought gosh, the heads at Universal have really lost their touch.

    And whilst onsetting Mummy failure panic might have caused the rushed announcement and photoshopped pic, it does not explain the initial casting. It’s like they are stuck in a time capsule re-living the heydays of the early M:I and Pirates films and Gladiator. Instead they should have hired interesting new faces for this. Marvel went with people like RDJ, Hemsworth, Evans, Hiddleston, Pratt and others who for the most part were on an up going curve and Marvel took them and ran with it. They are household names now but most of them were nowhere near Cruise or Depp territory or total movie blockbuster A list material before the MCU. So in addition to the overall MCU story planning there was some clever casting involved.

    Whereas Cruise and Depp are on a slippery slope downhill and not since just now. The signs were there and they should have never involved these guys in their planned universe. Classic approach of not enough vision and risk, but relying on blockbuster stars from the past.

    A cool new approach to the Universal horror (love the old films) could have been interesting, but the moment it had Cruise and Depp attached it had lost momentum. Same as I don’t understand why Depp was cast for the HP universe stuff. Apart from the off screen baggage these two come with and if you manage to turn off the ick factor, these days (I caught the last two M:I films on telly a while back, snooze) I can’t even enjoy them as actors anymore because it’s all so generic and phoned in and full of “look at me I am Tom Cruise/Johnny Depp I am a superstar” dullness.

  35. Blackbetty says:

    I never go and see his films. IVe lost respect for the media, who don’t have the balls to ask questions about Tom and his involvement in CoS. His press tours are all act!!