Most of you will recognize Thandie Newton as Maeve from "Westworld" where, into her MILFtastic late 40s, she's stolen the series from every other actor. Even in the occasional scene where she's in clothes.
She was also in the Oscar-winning "Crash" and "Solo: A Star Wars Story." But before those, she was in "Mission: Impossible II." Meaning she is one of those rare individuals walking the Earth who has had the surreal experience of having close, interpersonal dealings with the planet's most ephemeral, luminous being that is Tom Cruise.
And in this interview with Vulture, she describes in detail what it's like to be in the presence of this metahuman. And in no way does it disappoint.
What was your experience like on Mission: Impossible 2? And why didn’t you do another one?
Oh, I was never asked. I was so scared of Tom. He was a very dominant individual. He tries superhard to be a nice person. But the pressure. He takes on a lot. And I think he has this sense that only he can do everything as best as it can be done. There was one time, we were doing this night scene, there were so many extras with pyrotechnics and you name it, and it was a scene with him and me on the balcony. And I don’t think it was a very well-written scene. I get angry with him. We’re frustrated with each other. … So this scene was happening, and Tom was not happy with what I was doing because I had the shittiest lines.
And he gets so frustrated with having to try and explain that he goes, “Let me just — let’s just go do it. Let’s just rehearse on-camera.” So we rehearsed and they recorded it, and then he goes, “I’ll be you. You be me.” So we filmed the entire scene with me being him — because, believe me, I knew the lines by then — and him playing me. And it was the most unhelpful … I can’t think of anything less revealing. It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame. And bless him. And I really do mean bless him, because he was trying his damnedest.
I remember at the beginning of the night, seeing this slight red mark on his nose, and by the end of the night, I kid you not — this is how his metabolism is so fierce — he had a big whitehead where that red dot was. It would take anyone else 48 hours to manifest a zit. I saw it growing, and it was like the zit was me, just getting bigger and bigger.
It sounds like a difficult experience, but I have to say it’s very funny.
That was more just surreal than anything. Look, creative stuff is difficult. I was so tender and sensitive. And, also, if you think about the timeline of that, it was still early in my healing, in my recovery [from sexual abuse]. I’d had good therapy. I’d realized that I was precious. If it was me now, I would want to go in and go, “Hey!” I’d be it. You wouldn’t need to play me and I play you on that balcony. And I would have squeezed that spot. Bam!
Incredible. But I would expect nothing less from this demigod. Tom Cruise has ascended to a level of being that not only allows him to run up the sides of skyscrapers and fly on the outsides of jets, he can switch roles with his female co-stars at will and accelerate his metabolism to the point the life cycle of a zit is reduced to a fraction of what it would be on you or me. So multi-million dollar films don't get behind schedule and over budget waiting for it to pop the way it would for any other actor.
I don't know if this is something you learn to master when you get to his level of Scientology. (All I know is that it is a legitimate religion and as worthy of all the tax breaks enjoyed by every other faith so please don't come after me.) But I suspect zit acceleration is just one of Cruise's many powers. I'm a big Thandie Newton fan so I'm glad she's doing so well. And I'm especially grateful she gave us this candid insight into working with our most sacred natural treasure. But she doesn't pop Tom Cruise's white heads. Tom Cruise's own magic does it.
P.S. Now I need to see "Maverick" even more. I will take my chances with Covid at the theater for that one.