Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.
After he dropped out of last Saturday’s Produced By conference due to a late conflict, Tom Cruise – ever punctual and intensely focused, as is his reputation – kept his appointment for a rescheduled session this morning for a production-specific discussion that steered clear of any talk about what he’s up to now. (Hard at work on pre-production as star and producer for Mission: Impossible 5.) Onstage with Academy president Hawk Koch as moderator, Cruise looked sharp and relaxed in navy pullover sweater, open-collar shirt, black slacks and black leather shoes. Speaking in the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot (roughly 80% full) before an audience of producers and would-be producers, Cruise came across as the class act he is purported to be, speaking with passion about the need to practice “basic decency” and “respect every member of the crew” on the set. He returned repeatedly to the experience of his first significant film – 1981’s Taps – as being key to satisfying his incessant curiosity and his driving need to soak up every aspect of making a film. It ultimately led to his first hands-on producing work on the first Mission: Impossible film in 1996.
Cruise also earnestly spoke about how seriously he takes his leadership role on every film. “I love acting first and foremost, and I don’t have to be the one calling the shots,” he insisted. “I don’t direct myself when I’m acting. I am the actor… But I make sure to get the crews together and make sure they know that we’re a team, and that I want everyone to come in with their A game.” (more…)