That Time The Outsiders’ Tom Cruise And Rob Lowe Were Left To Sleep In Strangers’ Homes

Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe in The Outsiders
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

Back in 1983, a slew of young actors starred in an adaptation of the beloved novel The Outsiders, and many of them have only become bigger names since. During the filming of one of Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise’s first credits on screen, their living situation was a bit shady. As the ‘80s heartthrob Lowe, who played Sodapop, explains it:

When we were doing The Outsiders we’re 18 and 19 years old. It’s Francis Ford Coppola, the director who directed The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and the most intense kind of director imaginable. And in his effort to make us more authentic as greasers, as tough Tulsa wrong-side-of-the-tracks guys, he found a bunch of actual different Greasers who were now grown-up adults. And made us go spend the night and live with them.

That’s right, the director of The Godfather was in charge of the kids in the movie about two rival gangs, and he found a creative way to rough them up. According to Rob Lowe, each of the teens were given a place to stay in a not-so-great area in Tulsa, Oklahoma with former high school delinquents. Lowe and Cruise had to share a room in a spare section of the house, and it made for pretty questionable boarding for the actors. Lowe continued with these words on The Kelly Clarkson Show:

They came to us at rehearsal and like ‘Ok so we’re gonna divide you up. Rob, Tom you guys are gonna go stay with Bill and Sandy Webber. And we just went to their little house and had dinner. Tom and I ended up in the basement on two cots. And we’re like ‘We don’t know these people.’ I mean, who vetted them? Do you think Francis Ford Coppola spent a lot of time vetting these people? I can tell you he didn’t.

Looking back on it now, it’s pretty hilarious to imagine these huge movie stars sharing a basement room in a sketchy place in Tulsa. Rob Lowe has talked about the experience before, also stating that Francis Ford Coppola had them play tackle football with local “thugs” for the movie too. Coppola really went method on them!

Rob Lowe has also opened up in the past about his first experiences with Tom Cruise before their fame. According to the Parks and Recreation actor, when Lowe was with him for the New York round of auditions ahead of the basement accommodations later on, they were also chosen to stay at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. When Cruise found out they were sharing a room, he wasn’t happy about it.

Rob Lowe chalked that experience up to Tom Cruise’s high standards on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert, but he also observed Cruise’s early interest and ”relentless competitiveness” when it came to performing stunts. For The Outsiders, Cruise learned how to do a backflip that can be seen in the movie along with the entire cast’s fight choreography for the rumble sequence.

Aside from those two, The Outsiders starred a young Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swyaze, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane. The dramatic novel is a middle school staple that students still read annually in their English classes. Lowe gets a kick out of middle schoolers’ recognizing him for the role (the guy never ages) year in and year out due to his early movie.

The Outsiders would pave the way for Rob Lowe’s role in St. Elmo’s Fire a couple years later. Tom Cruise quickly found work in Risky Business and All the Right Moves at the same time as the book adaptation. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more behind-the-scenes stories on your favorite movies.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.