Tom Cruise once flipped out at a pap for taking a photo of him looking short

(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

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104 Responses to “Tom Cruise once flipped out at a pap for taking a photo of him looking short”

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    • Maguita says:

      I cannot wait for this book!

      Love her style of snide “Yeah, right Shortie”! Tom Cruise used to OWN Hollywood by the balls… Until he jumped on Oprah’s couch. And squeezed her hands backwards. And proposed to Katie hardly a month into their “courtship”. And changed Katie’s name to KatE.

      The weirdest thing is, by most accounts of people who come into contact with Tom, he is the most gracious star ever. Him and John Travolta. Maybe they are beasts behind the scenes. Whatever the situation, more light needs to be shed on CO$. Don’t leave it to The Village to do all the hard work. Bloggers need also from time to time to cover the latest defecting.

      Debbie Cook was testifying about how she was imprisoned and tortured, not long ago. Can you cover that too CB?

      • LAK says:

        Maguita, Pat Kingsley and her company PMK is the reason we did not find out about Tom Cruise for a long time.

        I think she’s retired now, but her company still represents many of the A List, and they are considered the scariest Publicists in town. Will do whatever it takes to protect their clients.

        Tom Cruise fired her, thinking his sister would do a better job, which instead resulted in all of us finding out about how crazy he is and all the scientology stuff [ which you could never quite substantiate before].

        Under Pat’s watch, he probably would have still jumped on Oprah’s couch, but it would not have been allowed to air or that segment would have been edited out.

        Someone should write a book about Pat Kingsley and PMK.

      • Maguita says:

        Forgot about the all-mighty Pat Kingsley!!! That woman had balls of brass.

        It always bothered me that men like Tom, pretending to have women in powerful positions on their staff, as long as those women follow exactly their lead. Putting his sister in Pat’s stead was definitely a bad move on his part. She was definitely not ready to run the Tom Cruise Show like Pat.

      • JCW says:

        Maquita, – Dead on right about Mr. Cruise’s reputation for being great with the fans. My husband and a friend wandered off off a VIP tour of Paramount and ran into him outside his trailer. They approached him and he engaged in a friendly 10 minute conversation – my husband came away a fan, I on the other hand have always been aware of his behind the scenes rep and wasn’t buying any of it. The man knows where his bread is buttered.

        Best take away was my 5’7″ husband being amazed that he had to look DOWN at Mr. Cruise to converse with him.

      • Maguita says:

        JCW – Not surprised about the height at all. He is on the petite side, like Formula 1 drivers petite side (well most anyways) around 5’5, 5’6 on a good day. But still lean and built, not slight.

    • Maguita says:

      Has anyone noticed the bottom picture of Days of Thunder???

      Tom Cruise looks like that kid from Shameless who plays “Lip”!! AM I seeing things? And CB, hope you will be writing about little Zac dropping a wrapped Magnum XL on the “Orange Carpet”… Too many jokes to count on that!

    • gg says:

      hah! And how did he already know he looked short in the photo – good guess? LOL

  1. Nev says:

    poor Nicole is more like it…over such silliness….geez.

  2. paola says:

    Aww they looked so nice together.. before Tom became full absorbed in that scientology crap. sorry but Katie Holmes will never reach Nicole’s level IMO

    • Jesse says:

      Nicole cheated on him and divorce happened when she was pregnant with someone else’s baby. She later got abortion and told it as a “miscarriage”

      • Ducky La Rue says:

        I’ve never heard that – where did you hear it?

      • gab says:

        Hey Duckie, Katie oops I mean Jesse heard it whispered by someone who’s nickname is Tiny Tom. Shhhh!

      • Mugs says:

        Partially right, he denied paternity but when she said she was prepared for DNA test, Tommy balked and divorce became amicable

      • Brigitte says:

        If I remember right, Ewan McGregor was the rumored affair.

      • Judy says:

        Are you in the COS? Because that is an outright lie. In fact it was in the papers and not some rag mag that nichole had that fetus tested and it was keot for the divorce to prov eit was his kid. ON top of that COS planted that story because they felt she hyad too much influance on Tom and he was dropping away from COS and they didnt want her around anymore. This is also in a book written by oneof the higher ups in COS who droppe dout that Tom was used by teh church adn still is and that Katie was chosen to be his wwife and have a kid because she is not too bright and will do as she is told by Tom and the Church. So Nick never cheated on him she did hence the divorce, Travolta is no longer heavy in COS sinc ehis son died and he admitted he was Autistic and hte church threw a fit . It almost broke up his marriage because thye were not allowed to tell the truth Jetts disease and John is all done with that BS. Nikcy took that divorce very hard because she was blind sided by COS and then he tookj the kids too,

      • Ducky La Rue says:

        I don’t think I buy this story – I’m more inclined to think that’s a COS plant, as Judy said. I seem to recall most of the chatter being around the issue of divorcing just before the magic 10-year mark, and him wanting to revitalize his image with a younger Penelope Cruz.

        In any case, at the time, it was expected that Cruise would come out on top in terms of PR – how things change! :-)

  3. eileen says:

    Its such a let down to read what an insane Nepoleon-complex whacko he is. Loved him in the 80s & 90s. : /

  4. mln76 says:

    Nicole was just soooooo beautiful. Why oh Why did she ruin her face. Maybe all the years of struggling to be perfect for that A-hole???

  5. RocketMerry says:

    Ah! Very amusing, this book should be a nice read.
    Tom is un-frakking-beliveable. What an a-hole.

  6. Agnes says:

    i’m glad that, despite all of his self-proclaimed scientology betterment classes, cleanses, and whatever the hell ever, he is insanely insecure and cannot control his temper. money well spent, tommy. money well spent. actual therapy would have been more effective and waaaay cheaper. haha

  7. missy says:

    If Tom is so sensitive about his height, I don’t see why he would always go for tall women. With the exception of Penelope Cruz, pretty much every woman he’s been with since the 80′s has been 5’9” or taller. I’d also point out that there are tons of photos of Katie towering over him. I call B.S. on this story, but I’m sure people will believe since Cruise is an easy target these days.

    • Jezi says:

      ^This! I just don’t get it either why he always dated tall women. It seems secure men, date taller women. But then again, if he were that secure he wouldn’t feel the need to wear lifts.

    • Serena says:

      Don’t think he’s insecure. These media are bs and just trying to make money of idiots. Like the ones who are buying this story. The only joke here is you and the author is laughing at it.

      • Maguita says:

        This will look very good on someone’s auditing session tonight.

        Don’t get why the need to insult everyone when not agreeing with a story. It just disproves the point instead of making a worthwhile eloquent effort.

      • LurkyLoo says:

        The Co$ is well-known for the ordered fervor with which it’s minions troll the web and use forums and comments areas to plant negative stories about their detractors, and try to also negate unflattering stories about it’s famous members. For some members this is a 9-5 job (paid in CoS$, meaning nothing). There are a few that are so infamous for this that their names come up in comments daily at sites like TMZ. Google “Serena Scientology” and see what you find.

        I think it is probably all true but I wonder what sort of editor would not correct the egregious number of instances in which “then” is used incorrectly in the above bit from the book, when below-intermediate grammar would dictate the proper “than”.

        Aside from this weird glitch, I have heard that all of this and more is true from insiders who once feared TC and now laugh whenever his name is uttered.

    • Bobby the K says:

      I don’t get it either, what’s he doing being with women in the first place, let alone tall ones?

    • danielle says:

      I’ve always wondered why he didn’t just date petite women – they would make him look taller in comparison.

      Also – how gorgeous was Nicole back in the day? Believably in love with Tom, and beautiful before she started messing with her face and hair. :^(

  8. gina says:

    buwahahaha- shawty gettn pissed

  9. T.C. says:

    Is it just me or does Nicole and Brad look good next to each other? That story about Cruise flipping out is sad and I hate that he was pretending like HE didn’t have any problem with the picture. The Photographer should have ran for it.

  10. Lem says:

    “Stop the ca Cole, let me out a the ca Cole”

  11. original sandy says:

    i too used to love tom, i think fame can tear anyone down when you believe your own hype, brad looked hot, i was not into him then, but still, hot, i feel for nicole, it must have been hard for her, ..the divorce, but i will always have great respect for her not going the jen A. route, acting like a desperate fame whoring in your face, naked, fool. maybe because nicole has real talent and class, she does not need to stoop so low.

  12. Kim says:

    I dont know who she is but i already love her for calling out Crazy Cruise!

  13. Gaia132 says:

    I don’t get what Tom is so embarrassed about. Most guys are around 5′ 7″ or so. My SO is just slightly taller than me and no one cares.

    But yeah, he sounds like a massive douche. What a tool.

  14. JudyJudyJudy says:

    this woman is an ass. It was her JOB to cover for him and not a freakin favor for a friend. Nope, wont be reading her book to pay her for being a leach.

    • Annoyedbyjudy says:

      Are u a scientologist trolling the web…pathetic

    • Kate #2 says:

      It wasn’t her job to be told to attend a cult’s classes, though. In fact that would be a breach of employment law in this country.

      And it’s arguably a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence to order an employee to take film from a paparazzo, and then pretend to disagree with the action to the pap’s face and denigrate that employee in the process. It’s kind of a low thing to do morally, too. He had the power and he was treating her in a bullying manner, which is unacceptable conduct in an employer.

      Of course, it may not be true at all. But if it is, I don’t think it’s remotely defensible. You don’t employ someone and then have the right to treat them however you want – an employee isn’t a slave. I’m not sure why you’re trying to argue it from that angle – surely going with the fact that it’s just one person’s word is a stronger point?

  15. fabgrrl says:

    Why would a man so obsessed with his shortness keep marrying TALL women?!?! Nicole, Katie, Mimi Rogers – tall, tall, tall! He dated Cher, right? Tall.

  16. Jackson says:

    I’m liking Miss Sally already. Can’t wait to read more.

  17. dorothy says:

    I used to like Cruise before he went all “in your face” scientology. Now I just think he’s a nut. And Katie Holmes will never be more than a B-actress.

    • Sherryl says:

      They got him in his 20s. He was an easy target due to his childhood and dad’s death. His dad never lived to see his success with Risky Business. I love Tom and I blame those who made him the victim.

      • polk8dot says:

        You know, Tommy boy may be many things, but one thing he’s not is a victim.
        He is fully in control of his own actions, feelings, future and destiny.
        To try not to excuse his bad behaviour, his freek-outs, his obsessions, is just wrong. And doing it by calling him a victim is ridiculous.
        He knew full well what he was engaging in when joining CO$, and he’s put very conscious effort into betterment and advancement of this idiotic cult. You ask me, I think he probably victimized many, many people and/or their families by foisting the cult onto the american psyche, but he always did it with full awareness of his actions, and pride in his achievements in the cult’s hierarchy. No, he is not a victim – a furthest thing from it, I’m affraid…

  18. Penguin says:

    One of my friends met Tom when he was filming in Ireland in the early 90s. He said Tom was a really nice guy but there was no way he was taller than 5’5.

    • carrie says:

      i lived in the south of France and in the middle of 90′s ,Cruise often came at Nice,Cannes or south of Italy and every one said he was very nice(but short) and once,he saved the life of french people (their boat is damaged)

      it’s weird if he’s insecure with his height because he dated with many tall women

  19. Serena says:

    What are you talking about? Where’s the video of him flipping? Never seen Tom just flip on fans or pap pictures.

    You’re full of it. At least try to get reliable sources

    • LurkyLoo says:

      Paid commenters, especially those at the Co$ going rate of 5$ a day, are no better sources than all these other anonymous first-hand reports in forums such as this.

      Your job of protecting his image is a Sisyphean task, dear Serena, akin to shoveling water against the tide. I think the time you spend making your videos on behalf of Co$ is probably time better spent.

  20. Carol says:

    What really makes me sad is Nicole trying to kick her shoes off as soon as she realized the photographer was taking pictures that would show her to be taller. If we can believe Sally’s version of Tom’s treatment of her, I wonder if we just got a glimpse of how he was treating Nicole, too. I remember when Nicole went on Letterman after the divorce. He asked her something about how things had changed or if there were any silver linings or something like that, and she responded by showing off her high heels. I believe Sally’s version of this incident.

    • JudyJudyJudy says:

      oh PLEASE…tall women kick off shoes all the time when photo’d next to shorter boyfriends.

      sometime I wonder if the posters here are 3 people who just re-use old stuff over and over…

      • LurkyLoo says:

        Nicole’s exact statement on Letterman was, “Now I can wear heels”, which suggests she wasn’t even wearing the sorts of heels she wished she could when with tiny tom. Notice how her footwear choices have changed since?

        To spend one’s days patrolling the internet so as to jump to the defense of it’s biggest star moneymaker would not be so sad if paid at least minimum wage. It’s great that you support your church with such vigor but when you one day realize you have been had and are broke, I hope the family and friends you left behind will forgive you and assist in your escape. There are religions in which you are welcome to come and go as you please and which value love of your fellow man over love of your money and slave labor.

      • Divorcee says:

        LurkyLoo, I do remember someone saying the same thing about Nicole’s high heels comment.

    • original sandy says:

      @ carol, i don’t know if these stories about tom are true, but i do remember that interview of Nicole’s saying she can now wear heels since the divorce, something to that effect, on that talk show, paraphrasing of course,

    • carrie says:

      nicole kidman always was taller with or without heel than him

  21. JudyJudyJudy says:

    you mean she doesnt NOW kiss the ass of people who PAID her to do a job? She is a sleaze.

  22. MoMo says:

    Hmmmmm… I’m skeptical about this anecdote. Like why would he even leave the house not wearing lifts if it were that big of an issue for him? They must have been photographed together all the time in public. Also, Nicole looks taller than him in the first 3 pics.

  23. Jayna says:

    Well, all actors are narcissistic to some degree. Some worse than others. It’s the nature of the job. But make no mistake, very few humble actors.

    One thing that is overexaggerated in the article saying he was compulsive about always appearing taller than Nicole. Most photos he is always shorter and seemed fine with it and, at the most, the same height (with lifts and low shoes for her), but never taller than her. Maybe he didn’t want to appear a lot shorter so used lifts or had her wear low heels (which is understandable and most of my tall friends wear flats or low-heeled shoes so as not to drawf their shorter boyfriends), but she was clearly taller than him.

    He is with Katie now who is taller than him and always appears in photos taller than him. I don’t see the issue with wearing lifts so the height difference isn’t huge.

    So he’s not too overly paranoid about being with tall women or he wouldn’t date and marry them.

  24. Jayna says:

    Also, my friend is an airline pilot and a close friend of hers was Nicole and Tom’s private pilot when they needed one. She said he said Tom was never anything but friendly and treated them never as hired help. He said Nicole was always aloof and not friendly. I hate anything said about my beloved Nicole so ignored it.

    Where he is disturbing is when he gained a lot of power and began pushing Scientology on people and had a Scientology booth set up at that movie he did with Steven Spielberg. Spare me. That guy was out of control by then.

    I am glad he has hidden the Scientology nuttiness, so I can still enjoy his movies. Because beyond the two movies he did with Nicole, which were not good, I have loved all of his movies. He brings it.

  25. mathpint says:

    My husband’s cousin works on movie sets in Vancouver, BC… she’s a driver for some stars (she was Kristin Stewart’s for all the movies) and an event planner and shopper for others. She said that when she worked on Mission Impossible 4 that Tom was crazy. Refused to let people call him Tom or Mr. Cruz… it had to be TC. And she also said that while he is very giving to his fans, he can be very vicious. He had a bunch of people fired from the set because they had the nerve to call him Tom.

    BTW – she said that Katie was very nice and a hands on mom, and Suri was a spoiled brat.

  26. Hootie Hoo says:

    I saw Tommygirl at LAX once and he is TINY. I’m 5’6 and I felt like a giraffe next to him.

  27. zenb!tch says:


    With the exception of RDJ who is at least taller than I am in flip-flops I have to disagree with short men remotely being hot.

    Tom is especially not hot because he has a large adult man’s head on the body of a 13 year old boy

  28. d says:

    First she has a story where she is all tough and not giving into his demands or worried about her job (going to Sci classes).

    Then she has a story about giving into his demand to get hte film from the photographer and she’s all worried about getting hell from her superiors, etc., and worried about her job.

    So: all true, or contradictory and/or self-serving to the overall theme, which is that he’s a jerk, or did he or the job wear her down. Or is it all a bunch of BS?

    He does seem wierd, and his being part of Scientology is bad, but I’m not sure I’d believe in her POV 100% either.

  29. fery says:

    Holy crap
    how tall is tom??!!!???!!!

  30. Sammy Edge says:

    Back to the Nicole affair rumor; I read something not long ago that the reason Tommy divorced her was at the behest of David Miscavige and the affair rumor was smoke and mirrors. Tommy actually wasn’t completely crazy about Scientology during the Nicole years, and toward the end of their marriage the “Church” waged an intense campaign to bring him back, ultimately convincing him that Nicole needed to be cut if she wasn’t on board.

    • Karma says:

      I remember that, wasn’t there rumblings that Scientology was going to spill his secrets if he didn’t tow the line? He then immediately fell back into it and the rumors started being aimed at Nicole.

      And iirc, it also involved their children and how they were going to be raised. That Tom wanted them to be with his ‘church’ while Nicole wasn’t thrilled with the idea and preferred to raise them under her faith.

      And then the way she was never photographed with her kids again. It seemed like she was indeed pushed out of their lives after the divorce, basically confirming the rumors. Since his ‘church’ doesn’t like non-members and wants their followers to cut ties with such ‘negative influences’/family members.

      Later when asked about it during interviews, she went silent, like scared silent.

      Oh and one other thing….I remember that he filed for divorce just one month prior to the long-term marriage deadline, thus saving him millions on the status of the divorce. Nah, those Scientologist would never be concerned with money…cough…cough….and reducing the amount Nicole would receive. Never…would they be concerned with Tom’s checkbook. cough..

  31. Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

    In the first photo Brad and Nicole do not look at all pleased with Tom.

  32. Beth B says:

    Serena and JudyJudyJudy we know you are both bat-shit crazy COS members, like Tiny Tom. Please step off, beyotches.

  33. Twez says:

    I can’t wait until this obnoxious little shit falls off his heels and twists his ankle. Although his publicist will probably spin the story that he hurt himself saving tiny babies from a car accident.

  34. Jenn says:

    I refuse to patronize any Tom Cruise movie because of his involvement in that disgusting, insane cult. I had a brush with COS in my early 20′s at a dental office. (COS sells a program to help in the running of dental practices.) I lasted a week. Finally realized the reason the dentist and coworkers were so weird was because they were recruiting for COS. After I quit I was told I “committed treason” and was an “enemy of the group”. All COS buzzwords.

  35. yaso says:

    i don’t believe this story..i think it’s BS…in almost all the pictures of Tom and Nicole together..Nicole was always obviously taller than Tom…so why he would make a big deal when he appeared shorter in a picture taken…it was the usual thing to see Tom shorter than Nicole in photos..

  36. the original bellaluna says:

    Classic SMS behaviour.

  37. julieKc says:

    That last picture from Days of Thunder makes these two look like they are together from some mutual freak production line. She looks like a female world wrestling champion next to a 12 year old boy who head grew freakishly bigger as he got older.

  38. villagedianne says:

    I think TC gave Katie a pass on the high heels because her legs probably don’t look that great in flats or lower heels. I think Katie has nice legs but they are a bit big by Hollywood standards. The higher heels make her legs look more slender.