Over the past month, Mission: Impossible actor Tom Cruise has been going viral on TikTok without being even remotely involved in the added fame on the social media platform. An account called "DeepTomCruise" has created a number of videos showcasing some incredible deepfake skills from its creator, Belgium’s Chris Ume. With the bit having become so popular on the platform, one wonders if the actual actor has any problems with it.
If you’re unfamiliar with “DeepTomCruise,” it’s a clearly marked parody account that has built up a following of over 760,000 followers and 2.2 million likes on TikTok since Chris Ume posted his first video in late February. Take a look:
Insane, right? It’s incredibly impressive work, and most of us can say that if we did not know it was a deepfake, we would have believed it was really Tom Cruise having a lollipop over on TikTok. After the account went viral, it raised some legitimate concerns from security analysts, with UC Berkeley professor Hany Farid calling the evolving tech a “perfect storm” for deception.
Chris Ume has since spoken out about his deepfake Tom Cruise account, explaining that he created the videos to entertain and raise awareness for the technology that he believes is not going anywhere. Since the account became popular, the actual Tom Cruise has made a TikTok that has been verified, perhaps to ensure his account or others like it can't impersonate him. Ume said he has since reached out to the Mission: Impossible actor. In his words:
We sent him an email and we said if you don't like what we're doing we'll take it offline, we don't mean any harm in any way, we are just having fun and making silly jokes - but we didn't receive an answer.
Tom Cruise’s official TikTok account does not have a single post and may have been created purely for safety reasons following the viral response to “DeepTomCruise.” It certainly shows that Chris Ume’s profile has reached the actor, but he has not been asked to take his content down. If Ume had not indicated that it was a parody account this might be a different story. Here is another one of Ume’s videos:
Tom Cruise is far from the only big name to be used for deepfake technology. Last year, a viral video was made to replace Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd’s Back to the Future roles within the movie with Tom Holland as Marty McFly and Robert Downey Jr. as Doc Brown. The Spider-Man actor admitted his first reaction to the video was to call his lawyer and “sue someone,” but ultimately decided that he liked the video.
The real Tom Cruise is getting ready to release Top Gun: Maverick, which is expected to hit theaters on July 2.