In the 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder, Tom Cruise stole scenes by mocking Hollywood’s entitlement. As the cocksure, foulmouthed studio exec Les Grossman, Cruise put on a fat suit, wore heavy prosthetics, and peppered his lines with profanity. When a gang holding his cast hostage demands ransom, he doesn’t bother to listen to the specifics. Instead, he threatens the kidnappers by promising to “rain down an ungodly fucking firestorm.”
Cruise’s outburst on the U.K. set of Mission: Impossible 7, leaked online early this week, isn’t quite as colorful as Grossman’s in language, but it certainly matches its tone. Upon finding crew members violating COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines, Cruise became upset and yelled at the staffers, insisting they follow protocols or leave. “They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us … I’m on the phone with every fucking studio at night, insurance companies, producers, and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies!” he shouted. “We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers.”
Given the recent surges in coronavirus cases, the dire state of the film industry, and the fact that filming for Mission: Impossible 7 shut down once already, in October, after 12 crew members tested positive for the virus, it’s easy to see why Cruise would be riled up. It’s even easier to cheer him on: He’s expressing the inner thoughts of many Americans who have tried to persuade people flouting coronavirus precautions to protect themselves and others. Cruise is a familiar face, a familiar voice; he’s the megastar who’s embodied heroes on-screen for decades, the guy entrusted with reassuring America after a crisis. So it’s cathartic, even comforting, to hear him assert that safety is paramount.