One might be surprised to hear the story of how a Steven Spielberg classic starring Tom Cruise once riddled the filmmaker with such anxiety that he almost lost sleep over it. But while Cruise is in no way a man to be questioned about the subtleties of stunt performance and his knowledge about the existence of stunt doubles, the actor’s insistence, and enthusiasm for throwing caution to the wind and jumping off from cliffs and buildings and moving airplanes is what makes him such a joy to watch.
But years before the megastar gained his infamous reputation for entertaining his movie-going crowd at the cost of endangering his life, Cruise films were simply not the same as his Mission: Impossible riots. One such movie helmed by the great Steven Spielberg then became the reason behind the filmmaker spending many a sleepless night worrying over hurting someone because of an impressively scaled stunt scene.
Also read: Tom Cruise Liked $603M Steven Spielberg Movie Script So Much He Asked Him to Postpone Another 2005 Film That Got a Mammoth 5 Oscar Nods
Steven Spielberg Loses Sleep Over War of the Worlds Scene
While his 2005 epic manages to rank right up there on the list of critically imposing alien invasion movies, Steven Spielberg was anything but satisfied with War of the Worlds. For one, the director never elected to make the movie and feels was rather goaded into it (after watching Ridley Scott’s Alien), he was also anything but happy with the film’s ending.
But it was one scene in particular that raised his hackles while trying to film the grand sequences that captured the vastness of his epic vision. Recalling the opening scenes of the movie which witnessed the chaotic moments after the alien invasion when a record number of people tried to get off the island to safety at night, Spielberg claimed:
“That was the most difficult for me because we had to have thousands of people running and I was terrified of someone falling, tripping, being stepped on or run over and thank God we had such a great stunt coordinator. We had so many extra stunt people inside the crowd and safety meetings with the crowd, so nothing bad happened.
But I was on edge for four days because of the vast amounts of crowds at night running on very narrow streets. So for me that was the most anxious time during filming and I couldn’t wait for those scenes to be over.”
Also read: Tom Cruise Tricked Fans into Starring in $603M Movie, Offered Them His Pictures for Free
Spielberg’s apocalyptic vision of the H.G. Wells classic starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, made on a budget of $132 million earned a hefty profit at the box office with a global collection of $603.9 million. The film also holds a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Missed Opportunity of a War of the Worlds Sequel
All was well with the cast and crew of the 2005 sci-fi epic until Tom Cruise stepped out to promote the Steven Spielberg classic in 2004-05. The year preceding the film’s release marked a tumultuous time for the Hollywood action star with his high-profile engagement with Katie Holmes and his increasingly vocal outbursts defending the beliefs of Scientology.
Also read: Steven Spielberg Refused Making Sequel to Cult-Classic $603M Movie after Clashing With Tom Cruise
As his couch-jumping confessions in Oprah and a ridiculously uncomfortable interview with Matt Lauer began to scour the internet, the publicity helped gain a negative perception of the Spielberg movie as it shifted attention away from the film and into more controversial aspects of its star’s personal life. Later, talks of a sequel were squashed following the deterioration of the relationship between the director and his lead, despite the ending remaining inconclusive and unsatisfactory to Spielberg.
Recently, however, a partial reconciliation between Tom Cruise and the 3-times Oscar-winning director was witnessed at the 2023 Oscars luncheon after the latter praised Cruise claiming, “You saved Hollywood’s ass and you might have saved theatrical distribution,” with the release of Top Gun: Maverick.
War of the Worlds is now available for streaming on Hulu and MAX.