February 21, 2018


Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg

By Dan Epstein

So a bunch of us Internet punks & punkettes got to go to a special press conference for online and radio people with Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. I got there super early for the free food and the schmoozing and the gossip. I heard a couple of things about Jude Law and found out about a whole lot of Internet sites that are run by assholes. Plus, I played this Game Boy version of the new Minority Report game. I stunk at it but I think you need three hands to play. They also had these awesome chocolate covered corn flakes. Those were awesomely good. Especially with free Diet Coke and my favorite bottled water, Fiji.

Then we went down to the hotel's conference room. I grabbed Fiji water and stuck it in my pocket and then sat down and waited. Anyway, as Iím sure we all know, if you put a bunch of people in a room, one person will always, and I mean always, emerge as the one who makes a lot of jokes. In our room it was this one dude from radio. I think his name was Bill. Anyway, he made a lot of jokes. I think he was trying to get sent to principal, Iím not sure. All I can say is that the two most powerful entertainers in world were super nice guys. I was only allowed to ask a couple of questions so I couldnít ask my favorite one which is, ďHey Tom/Steve, has anyone ever cut you off in traffic and then you called God on his private line and asked him to squash them like a bug? And if so, what is Godís number or at least his area code?Ē But you take what you can get.

Steve & Tommy (as Iím allowed to call them now) walked in and noticed that their table was far away from us.

Steven Spielberg: Why are we so far away from you guys?

They both pick up the table and move it closer to us.

Tom Cruise: The union is going to sue us. How you guys doing?

Tom doesnít wait for an answer before he sits.

Do you think there is a pre-determined future and if so is there a danger in knowing too much about it?

SPIELBERG: Itís almost a religion. Is the future predetermined or can you make the choice and control your own destiny? I think it's a matter of individual belief. There are times when I believe that stuff is out of my control and I am following a path and other times when I feel really good about myself and I feel feisty and I can take the world by storm. I go back and forth depending on my mood.

CRUISE: I'd like to know about the future. I like the questions that Minority Report poses like Ďare there choices?í I believe we have them. Iím interested in the future and I was excited when Steven said he wanted to make this movie fifty years in the future. Whatís the world going to be like? Itís something that the audience can identify with and itís not too far off. That fascinates me.

Minority Report, A.I. and Vanilla Sky all have similar themes - subjective reality. Is this a coincidence that you both got together at this time to make this film?

SPIELBERG: I appreciate that there may be similar themes; I donít quite see them because I think the story of the reality in Minority Report is clear. There are no ultimate realities in A.I. or in Minority Report. They all have a time sequence in all those films. Vanilla Sky was delicious; you had to figure where you were at all times. I think that movies that mess with the brain are movies that Iím hungry for right now. Iím hungry for something that allows me to take my brain to the movies as well as my stomach for all the fast turns and effects. As I get older I demand substance. Thatís what I tried to do with Minority Report.

Minority Report has a very Brian De Palma [director of classic thrillers like Dressed to Kill and Blow-Out] feel. Itís a thriller number one, and then there are tracking shots over rooms plus the idea of different angles of a murder. What do you think of that?

SPIELBERG: Brian De Palma and I both learned from the same teacher. Alfred Hitchcock [laughter from the room, Tom Cruise laughs especially hard].

Iím wondering how much public response affects your projects.

SPIELBERG: Do you mean in previews?

Like box office.

SPIELBERG: That doesnít affect me and it never really did. It certainly doesnít affect which movie Iíll make either. Whether Iím coming off a hit or a movie that isnít perceived as a hit. It doesnít change my mind; I donít think, ďI need a hit to follow a film that didnít make any money.Ē

CRUISE: You never know what will do well.

SPIELBERG: Weíll be okay with Minority Report because we have great tracking. But we donít know how long it will last. I make movies; Iím one of the people who donít read what the box office is on Monday and Tuesday. Iím more concerned about if the movie is any good.

CRUISE: Since you never know what will happen. It really comes down to whether or not you want to invest your time in a story your interested in. You hope that the studios make their money back with a return because ultimately there is a responsibility that we have. None of the choices are based on that though. Iíve known Steven for so long and then to be working with him you see how his instincts are. Heís obviously a gifted filmmaker but it all serves the story.

Janusz Kaminski [cinematographer for Spielbergís last six films including Minority Report] does such great work on your films. Do you have a particular favorite shot in this movie?

SPIELBERG: I set my camera and pick the lenses and then Janusz lights the shot. Thatís our relationship. I tell the story through the camera. Thatís what Iíve doing my whole career. Januszís job is to come in and light it so that the lighting tells the story as well. The one shot that I think is a great combination of camera placement, lens choice and lighting, is the shot when Agatha [Samantha Morton] is embraced by John Anderton [Tom Cruise] and sheís looking over his shoulder as they have a conversation. Itís two profile shots.

CRUISE: I loved that too. It was Samanthaís first day of shooting. And she showed up and she was like lightning in a bottle. We were rehearsing, she did one take and Steven and I went behind the set and went ďYeah,Ē and we were high fiving each other. She was just on fire.

SPIELBERG: Sheís like a silent movie actress.

CRUISE: Amazing face. [To Steven] You had never even seen that set before. He had seen it in pictures. But he moves so quickly and set it up quickly. I remember when he found that profile shot and immediately, he told me to look at it. I just love that shot. Weíre hoping that it becomes a newspaper ad.

SPIELBERG: Itís going to be post-opening newspaper ad.

CRUISE: You look at a film like this and itís got a tremendous production value but those shots at that particular moment with both characters that are going in different directions, itís exciting. Not just because itís a great shot but it tells a story and thatís what excited me. Mr. Spielberg has those incredible visual abilities. [Spielberg and Tom laugh]

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