Valkyrie is still out there making money this weekend, so before you go watch Tom Cruise try to kill Hitler, stop here to hear from the man himself, along with director Bryan Singer. They talked about their experience making the movie as partners, how this is totally not a Holocaust movie, and interestingly, what makes up their definitions of success.
Tom, do you see this as a comeback?
Tom Cruise: I don't really see it that way. I've just been making movies. I've been making films.
Do you think this is an important movie?
Cruise: I think that's definitely-- it's an important story. I want to entertain audiences. That was a bonus for the film.. It's important to know, of course, that it's not everyone. It's not everybody who felt that and fell into that Nazi ideology. That, to me, was surprising. I grew up wanting to kill Nazis, wanting to kill Hitler. I thought, why didn't someone just shoot him?
Singer: It's not a Holocaust movie. It's a conspiracy thriller about assassinating Hitler. As Tom was saying, the bonus is that it happens to be true. Things that you think are Hollywood conventions that happen in the movie, some of the twists and turns actually did happen.
Cruise: It's not a biopic. Every time we'd start talking about the Holocaust and the different characters and trying to put as much into that story as possible, Bryan always went back to, this is a piece of entertainment. We wanted to bring this movie to a broader audience.
What is both of your definitions of success?
Singer: Freedom to be able to do the work you want to do. Sometimes that comes with money and financial freedom. Sometimes it comes with having trust in the people in your creative community. As a director, if you're at a point where you can do what you want to do creatively, then you're successful, really successful.
Cruise: I have to agree with Bryan as far as making films. I'm going to do this for the rest of my life. To have the ability to make the kind of films that I want to make, and work with people that I've been able to work with. I just love movies. I've always done things that I thought would be challenging, but I've always wanted to entertain audiences. I feel very privileged to do that. Personal success for me is raising my kids and my family. As much as I love movies, that's always been my priority.
How does your working partnership work?
Cruise: i have a great respect for him as a filmmaker, storyteller, and that's how it s when you're going into a film like this. I think this film is about a 20 [on a scale of 1 to 10] as a challenge.
Singer: We had the freedom to spend a lot of time working together. From my experience, there was never any difference. I knew that no matter how many takes I asked him to do, it would never be as many as Stanley Kubrick did. We tried, we experimented, and it was phenomenal. He did anything you asked. It was never a lack of trust. As a director you always feel that nobody cares about the movie as much as you do. The partnership that you see here is a relationship with someone who cares about this movie as much as I do.
Tom, what was it like being a producer on this film?
Cruise: I've produed a lot of movies beforehand. There's always the balance of art and commerce. I like to look at that as opportunities as opposed to restrictions. It's not just having talent, making film. It's important also to know to surround yourself with great people. I've got very good people that I work with. I've always tried to surround myself with people that i respect, that I enjoy working with. At the studio it's actually a very exciting time. I am an actor first and foremost.
How did you decide not to do German accents?
Singer: We didn't want that to be what the movie was about. It's a thriller, it should be exciting-- the audience should be taken on a ride through the film. The actors speak wonderfully the way they do, in their current dialects, and the characters are all supposed to be German anyway. To have everyone putting on affected German accents, when in reality they're supposed to be speaking German, I promise you after 20 minutes you would be sick of it.