Everyone’s been asking me what I think about this Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise split. Was it all purely business from the beginning – or an ill-fated fairy tale with an evil Scientology villain? My answer is, it’s more complicated than that.
To understand it, you have to go back in time– back to Tom and Nicole.
The first time I met Tom Cruise it was at the 2000 Oscars. Nicole Kidman, who I generally like, was being a complete bitch to him that evening. At least it looked like it from what I could see. Tom was affectionate and attentive to his wife on the red carpet, holding her hand and kissing her bare back, but she’d shrug him off and roll her eyes at him whenever they stepped away from the cameras. She didn’t want him controlling the pace of their red carpet walk and seemed to resent that he was trying to. At one point right in front of me he literally appeared to plead with her to come inside at the post-Oscars Vanity Fair party and she just yanked her arm away, said something harsh and continued posing for photos. From what I’ve heard from the people around them during their marriage were that Tom was ‘the nice guy’ and she was ‘icy cold’ and difficult to deal with. Then there were the rumours about his sexuality and her infidelity. Tom sued and won over a gay (male) porn wrestler who said they’d had a steamy liaison. There was an Esquire interview between Nicole and sexy writer Tom Junod who wrote that they got drunk in a Sydney pub and ended up in bed (he says platonically) together. A distraught Tom called the room looking for his wife. Indeed, when Tom ‘blindsided’ Nicole with their divorce filing while she was pregnant, the media speculated that the baby was not in fact his – a fact she has long denied. In short, it was messy.
It was towards the end of his marriage that I next saw Tom. It was at the Golden Globes, he was still married to Nicole but she hadn’t come with him, despite his being nominated for Magnolia. He and I smiled and exchanged pleasantries and he sat down next to me and called his mom and sister on the East Coast to tell them he’d won. I remember wondering why he wasn’t calling his wife. At the time, he seemed friendless and lonely. I saw him a few months later, just after their split at the MTV Movie Awards. His date for the evening this time? Scientology leader David Miscavige. At the time, I was in the VIP parking lot pretending to talk on my cell phone while secretly listening to celebrities gossip while they went out for smoke breaks. (Most actors smoke so that’s always the best place to get gossip fyi.) I watched Tom pull in with the Scientology head at his side. He waited for Tom in the car while he went in and accepted his award. The normally cool actor looked stressed and upset. Cruise didn’t stick around for any schmoozing and as the car pulled away he leaned forward and put his head in his arms.
Flash forward to 2006: (/www.rediff.com/movies/report/tom) yes that’s me grinning manically at new dad Tom. My clever producer Karen Moss at This Morning came up with the idea to give him a Teddy Bear for Suri. He loved it. We spoke for several minutes. Tom was beaming, ecstatic and overjoyed. He was like a different guy entirely. He was walking on air. At the time he was planning his wedding to ‘Kate’.
So was it real? Yes and No. I believe there was something between them more than some arrangement to keep the gay rumours at bay and launch her film career. Even Tom Cruise isn’t that good an actor.
But it wasn’t a standard courtship to be sure. There’s a great piece here by the journalist/author Andrew Morton about how Katie was cast to play his wife in the NY Post. If you ask me, I believe every word of it. Katie was not his first choice, but the most promising candidate. And yes, she was chosen the way one might cast a film, with chemistry, age and appearance in mind.
Yes there were contracts, pre-nups, promises of confidentiality – but I think 26 year old Katie was star struck by the much older, still sexy Hollywood legend. And he wooed her, big time. Private jets, rooms filled with flowers, even an international press tour of their engagement. (Up until their recent split, he was still sending her a present EVERY single day.) Was the press alerted that Tom was going to propose in advance, Yes. Did Tom want the coverage? Yes. Were they in love, at least a little bit? I believe yes.
Tom learned a lot from his relationship with Nicole Kidman – or at least that’s what I believe. He was never going to do this again and not be in the driver’s seat. He chose someone he believed he could control – and for a long time he could.
Katie was dubbed ‘the Stepford wife’ and ‘Robowife’ because of her blank expression and using the same (clearly coached) adjectives again and again ‘it’s magical’ became her buzzwords. She dutifully attended Scientology classes thrice weekly at LA’s Scientology Center. She produced a beautiful baby girl, who she delivered in silence per Scientology rules and made nice when Tom decided to move his mom and sister Cass and her kids into their Beverly Hills home. She fired her publicist, management and assistants, and replaced all with Tom’s own team and a group of Scientologists who monitored her every move. There were even rumours (which I believed) that Tom had GPS installed in her cell phone so he could track her movements. Over the years, Katie began to resent the control her husband, and his religion had over her. The now 33 year old grew up and wanted freedom. Tom did what he could. He bought Katie her own ‘playhouse’, a small home near their LA mansion where she could go when she wanted to get away from the now large number of Scientologists and his family living with them. She got her own car for her birthday – a mini – and was allowed to drive it without the hired driver. Tom encouraged her dreams to be a fashion designer and a dancer, and despite a blinding lack of talent on her part in either field, Tom personally funded both efforts. He was publicly and personally supportive of her creative expression.
But it was not enough to compensate for what else was going on. A busy husband who was making 4 movies back to back, her own once promising career down the toilet since marrying him, and a 6 year old daughter who she saw being indoctrinated in a church that she was no longer sure she wanted any part of. She saw what happened to Nicole and her kids when she split with Tom. That was her greatest fear for Suri.
Tom knew she was unhappy but believed with all his heart he could hold it, and them together. He underestimated her – her ambition and her strength. It was a fatal mistake on his part. At the moment, it’s not clear his career will ever recover. In fact, by filing the way she did, on a Friday before the July 4th holiday weekend, a few days before his 50th birthday, changing her mobile numbers so he couldn’t contact her and waiting until he was in Iceland on the other side of the world to do it – Katie ‘played a blinder’ as the English say. In fact she did to Tom exactly what Scientology teaches – Attack never Defend. Who knew the girl had such game?
For Tom Cruise now it’s all about rebuilding and rebranding – but at the moment, it’s just about damage control. If he thought he looked bad after he divorced a pregnant Nicole, that was nothing compared to what the mess he’s in at the moment. Now his belief system, his parenting and his manhood is all under fire. It must have been a miserable 50th.