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Cruise on ‘War,’ getting the squirt in London

The actor talks to “Today” host Matt Lauer about his action-packed summer movie and his red carpet encounter with a prankster.
/ Source: TODAY

In part one of Matt Lauer’s interview with Tom Cruise, which aired Friday, they talked about Cruise's headline-making romance with Katie Holmes, his comments about Brooke Shields' postpartum depression, and Scientology. In the final part of the interview, Cruise talks about his latest film, "War of the Worlds," in which he plays a divorced deadbeat dad who hasn't been very involved in raising his children. Lauer begins the interview by talking about the day the aliens attack in the movie.Matt Lauer:  Let me set the scene here a little bit. Obviously, the aliens have attacked and they are decimating the planet. No one knows why they're there. But they know that in an instant, their entire world has been turned upside down. Everything they took for granted, their creature comforts, their sense of confidence, their individuality that has …

Tom Cruise:  We're talking about the alien creature comforts, we're talking about…

Lauer:  We're talking about our own creature comforts.  [Laughter] But they basically … life as they knew it ceases to exist.

Cruise:  Yes.

Lauer:  And there's a scene in the movie, Tom, that struck me.  And I would imagine it did you as well, where Dakota Fanning, who plays your daughter, is traumatized by what she's seen over the last 24, 48 hours, you're in the cellar together and she's trying to go to sleep.  She says, "Dad, sing me a lullaby." And the father …

Cruise:  Yeah, that scene. When we were working on the script and we were coming up with the song — what should that song be?  He doesn't know any of the lullabies.

Lauer:  No, because he wasn't there as a father.

Cruise:  No. But he then sings her "Little Deuce Coupe."

Lauer:  Right.

Cruise:  I see those moments in life.  It's heartbreaking that the parent has missed out.  It's that moment of recognizing, “Oh my gosh, what have I missed?  Here I am now and what have I missed?”  Here's this beautiful daughter and …

Lauer:  But he does the best he can.

Cruise:  He did.

Lauer:  You're very grassroots with your fans.  I was watching a lot of the tapes from around the world promoting “War of the Worlds,” and you don't walk down the middle of the red carpet.  You walk down the sides, you shake hands, you take pictures and you give hugs, as you gave a hug in the studio a second ago. Then something happened recently where you went over and granted an interview, and it turns out to be a prank show and [the interviewer] puts [a] microphone up and squirts you …

Cruise:  Yeah.

Lauer:  … in the face.  What were you thinking when it happened?

Cruise:  Well, I said what I was thinking.

Lauer:  Was it hard to believe this was happening to you?

Cruise:  You know, here's the thing, as I said Matt, it was for me the greatest premiere that I've ever had in London.  It's just one incident … you can't spend time worried about the small percentage of cynics in life, and those small percentage of people that want to make less of someone. It's like, okay … whatever. The day was incredible, it's not even worth getting in and talking about that guy.  He's just a jerk.

Lauer:  Except that I thought you handled it remarkably well. Because I know a lot of people, and I'm in the limelight a little, not like you.  I try to think how I would've handled it. Be honest, there had to be a split second where you wanted to drop him right in his place.

Cruise:  You know, Matt …

Lauer:  Because you've been describing it going like this [smacking his fist in his hand] …

Cruise:  No …

Lauer:  … for the last five minutes. [Laughter]

Cruise:  No, Matt.  No.

Lauer:  You didn't want to hit him?

Cruise:  No, no. I went to so many different schools growing up and there were always those bullies.  There are always those people, and when you confront them, they're just absolute cowards. They're just cowards and they want to draw all the attention to them and make it a negative. They want to create chaos.

Lauer:  He tried to walk away and you said, "Wait a minute."

Cruise:  Yeah, I was like, no, no, no. I said, "Come here.  No, no, no.  You're not going to walk away."

Lauer:  Right.

Cruise:  He tried running away.  There's so many good people in the world that as I said, I don't … I just think it's a waste of time to even go there.

Lauer:  Two last questions.

Cruise:  Yes.

Lauer: I read in the pa … [Laughter] what was the question?

Cruise:  Only two?

Lauer:  No, no.  I read in the paper that you spent some time recently with Katie [Holmes]'s parents and …

Cruise:  Yeah.

Lauer:  So, how did meet the parents go?  I know you've met them before.

Cruise:  They're outstanding.

Lauer:  Yeah?

Cruise:  Outstanding.

Lauer:  Everybody's on the same page?  When are you getting married, and where?

Cruise:  Don't know, Matt.

Lauer:  And what do I need to wear?

Cruise:  Don't know. [Laughter] You know what?  I think we'll go from shorts to tux.  I'm not sure. We'll see how it goes.

Lauer:  I'm happy you're happy.  I really am.  It's good to see you this way.

Cruise:  You too, man.

Lauer:  Thank you, Tom.

Cruise:  Be well.

Lauer:  Appreciate it.

Cruise:  Thank you.

Lauer:  You too.

“War of the Worlds” opens on Wednesday, June 29.