He is the last man standing, the straightest of straight arrows and according to some the only true A-list film star left in the world.
He is courageous, ageless and fearless but nevertheless, Tom Cruise slightly gives me the creeps.
It’s irrational, it’s unfair, but I can’t help it.
In the Big Jan Book Of Bad, my groundless beefs against Tom include the oppression of his sincerity, the thickness of his hair, his continuing devotion to dare-devilry and the lavish humility he extends at every opportunity.
‘No one asks Gene Kelly ‘why do you dance, why do you do your own dancing?’ he said this week, when someone asked him why he does his own stunts. So modest!
He is courageous, ageless and fearless but nevertheless, Tom Cruise slightly gives me the creeps. It’s irrational, it’s unfair, but I can’t help it
Approaching his 60th birthday, Tom is the Dorian Gray of action films, a man who will strap himself to the outside of a fuselage the way that most men will strap themselves inside a car. This is supposed to be marvellous, but isn’t it also a little weird?
Even Daniel Craig allows stuntmen and experts to take over, now and again. Even Daniel draws the line at piloting his own planes or helicopters in films. Not our Tom.
Over the years, Cruise has burnished his reputation as a risk-taker extraordinaire and a seeker of onscreen authenticity; he has dodged explosions, leapt off cliffs, clung onto the door of an airplane, hung out of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and escaped from an exploding fish tank, all while keeping his manly jaw clenched and firm.
But there is one thing this Hollywood hero is scared of — old ladies! That’s where he draws the line — at the genuine and the realistic. And that is his biggest crime of all in my book.
Over the years, Cruise has burnished his reputation as a risk-taker extraordinaire and a seeker of onscreen authenticity; he has dodged explosions, leapt off cliffs, clung onto the door of an airplane, hung out of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and escaped from an exploding fish tank, all while keeping his manly jaw clenched and firm
In case you somehow missed the onslaught of publicity, Cruise’s hotly anticipated new film, Top Gun: Maverick, is about to be released. It has taken 36 years for this sequel to the Eighties classic to be made, which sees Cruise return as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell and features a special appearance by Val Kilmer — aka ‘the Iceman’ and Maverick’s old rival turned wingman — now elevated to Admiral Tom Kazansky.
Kilmer, 62, lost his voice to throat cancer and his resurrected part in the new film will be spoken by an AI machine.
But where are the women from the 1986 original? Excuse me. Simply nowhere to be seen. Vaporised by the Hollywood Age Patrol, the girls have somehow fallen off their perch and simply ceased to be.
Despite the fact that this is a sequel, there is no role for the two actresses who were the beating emotional heart of the original film.
Nothing for Kelly McGillis (now aged 64) who played Maverick’s girlfriend (and ‘Top Gun’ instructor) ‘Charlie’ and is not even mentioned in the new film. And nothing for Meg Ryan (60), who played Carole, the wife, then widow of Maverick’s best friend ‘Goose’, and mother of his son, Bradley.
Carole returns, but is played by actress Jean Louisa Kelly, who is ten years younger than poor old Meg. This means Jean was actually only 14 when the original film was made, and would have given birth to her fictitious son Bradley when she was only ten years old, but that’s Hollywood for ya!
In case you somehow missed the onslaught of publicity, Cruise’s hotly anticipated new film, Top Gun: Maverick, is about to be released. It has taken 36 years for this sequel to the Eighties classic to be made
We all know that the film industry is no place for old women, especially not at the side of the world’s leading man. Such a shame, as their presence would have lent a poignant charge to the film and depth to the shared hinterland.
Yet if age is allowed to pass at all in Hollywood it is only on the faces of men, not women. Even now.
Actresses and big stars such as Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston have all carried on working into their 50s and beyond, but mostly only by producing their own projects and religiously keeping within the beautiful parameters of the Hollywood aesthetic.
Kelly McGillis ruled herself out of the new Top Gun role by saying that she was ‘too old and fat’ for a return performance. ‘I look age-appropriate for what my age is, and that is not what that whole scene is about,’ she said.
She’s right, of course. It is only men like Tom who can Cruise on for ever, assured of their place and status among the hegemony of Hollywood.
He does have a new love interest in the film, a character played by Jennifer Connelly, who is 51, but come on, she could be pass for a dozen years younger at least.
It’s a bit depressing, but perhaps we should be grateful for any sisterly crumbs thrown our way in this celluloid celebration of men and their machines. No doubt Tom will do what Tom does best — burn up the action and steal every scene, on and off the big screen.
And all of a sudden, my least favourite man is everywhere. He’s on the red carpet at Cannes. He’s bought a house in Biggin Hill. He’s sending his famous Tom Cruise coconut cakes to everyone. He even turned up at the finale of the Royal Windsor Horse Show show a few days ago, trotting around like the prize stallion he is, flicking his lustrous and preternaturally chestnut mane.
Some accused him of turning the historical pageant to mark the start of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations into the Tom Cruise Show, but I like to think perhaps he was there in person to tell Her Maj that just like Jennifer and Meg, she also failed to get a role in his new film on account of her age.
Meanwhile, the charismatic gnome continues to mesmerise all in his path.
‘He made proper eye contact. He is a class act,’ said Phillip Schofield after interviewing him for ITV, sounding brainwashed and bewitched. ‘Tom is so, so exceptional,’ said Jennifer Connelly who was probably gifted a Tom Cruise coconut cake but didn’t eat it, like Kelly might have done and I certainly would.
Why does he try so hard to make everyone like him? For me, the uncomfortable suspicion lingers that it has to do with his role as a leading Scientologist and that underpinning all his generosity and charm and ubiquity is a wish to promote not just a film, but also his chosen religion on an unsuspecting world.
That is why even after all these years, Tom still takes my breath away — just not in the way he thinks.
Of course people are struggling — but stealing is still stealing
As the cost of living crisis escalates, prepare yourself for more handwringing from the front line of foolishness.
First out of the traps, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who warned price rises would ‘trigger an increase in crime’.
Andy Cooke risked the fury of struggling retailers by suggesting officers should use their ‘discretion’ when deciding whether to prosecute food shoplifters who may be ‘stealing to eat’.
One could argue that it is either wrong to steal or it is not, and we shouldn’t burden officers with having to make moral and ethical decisions — that is a job for the courts.
But what are we talking about here? We are not living in some Ken Loach fantasia where a desperate young mother steals formula milk from her local Tesco. More likely to be someone slipping four shrink-wrapped fillet steaks into his jacket, maybe to sell down the pub later. It is never acceptable to steal. If officers turn a blind eye, where does that leave honest, law-abiding citizens who budget every week and forgo luxuries?
What crimes are going to be exempted next on the grounds of need and not want? Benefit fraud, burglary, car theft, Rolex snatching? Let us not forget that there are many safety nets to ensure that no one starves in modern Britain. A benefits system. Food banks. Charities. Churches. Endless Tory MPs and Jack Monroe giving instructions on what to do with a bag of lentils and a parsnip.
Where do we draw the line? Is it OK to steal tins of soup and cereal, but not OK to steal smoked salmon and a crisp white wine to go with it? Who is a chancer and a crook, who is really in need and who is to decide? Don’t ask Andy Cooke. He doesn’t know either.
At home with the Girl Dad
It has been reported that Harry and Meghan have let cameras into their home to film everyday life Chez Sussex.
Reality TV, here they come!
But it was only ever going to be a matter of time. I’m looking forward to the episode where Harry creeps around in his Girl Dad T-shirt and polishes Meghan’s jewellery with Goop products before he goes to bed at 3am, only to get up two hours later to peel the papayas for her breakfast and unroll her yoga mat.
It was four years ago this week that the couple got married, can you believe it? Four years since that glorious day and four years since all that public affection was tossed aside in their bid for glory and Netflix deals.
Their new paymasters want the intimate series to be ready this year, no doubt to cash in on the release of Harry’s potentially explosive memoir.
What on earth can the pair of them say about the Royal Family that they have not already said? No doubt they will think of something suitably damaging.
For what else are the Sussexes going to do? Being associated with royalty is all they’ve got. By U.S. celebrity standards, they are distinctly second division.
Little wonder that Netflix has axed 40-year-old Meghan’s animated series Pearl, while interest in Harry’s Invictus Games documentaries appears to be limited to a minority audience.
What happens after this? Surely after ladling scandal from the royal life they purported to hate so much, the punch bowl is finally empty? We’ll see.
Pass me the earplugs, Ma’am. I have to confess that the Platinum Jubilee concert line up is far from inspiring — Queen, Craig David and Diversity? Although perhaps we should be grateful that Katherine Jenkins doesn’t appear to be on the bill.
Meanwhile, nothing is going ahead without those other queens, Elton and Rod, making a contribution; alongside those well-known British stars and favourites of Her Majesty — Alicia Keys, Nile Rodgers and Andrea Bocelli. Still, my excitement is mounting. Bunting has started appearing in London, while corgi biscuits and socks are now on sale.
Is it wrong to want one of those divine Barbie Queen dolls?
Just asking for a friend.
Proof BoJo still has his mojo
Kenneth Branagh’s transformation into Boris Johnson (left) looks absolutely amazing — he could even stand in for him at PMQs. And probably do a better job!
A friend of mine is a Boris lookalike and regularly gets shouted at on the streets of London.
Amazingly, the hecklers are remarkably affectionate. And people in pubs are always trying to buy him pints of beer.
All of which suggests to me that Boris is still regarded with a degree of fondness by the public; one that often goes unnoticed and unremarked upon.
Yes, even now.