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Tom Cruise Cannes Tribute: Biggest Highlights From His Masterclass

Tom Cruise Cannes Tribute: Biggest Highlights From The Special Presentation

After 3 years of delays due to the pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick is almost here. The sequel of the 1986 classic was presented at Cannes on Wednesday night. Tom Cruise and the team of the film were there, and so were we.

The last time he appeared on the Croisette was for the release of Far and Away by Ron Howard in 1992. Some 30 years later, Cannes decided to pay tribute to the star, by organizing a masterclass in his honor, preceded by a fifteen minutes long career montage.

In the evening, the cast of Top Gun: Maverick walked one of the most hysterical and impressive red carpets ever made at Cannes, during which the French Fighter Jets flew over the palace to greet the actor, leaving the entire team of Top Gun: Maverick with stars in their eyes. Finally, the actor was honored with a Palme d’Or and an almost six minutes long standing ovation at the end of the screening.

Tom Cruise Cannes Tribute: How Hollywood Honors His Work

Tom Cruise Cannes Tribute - Top Gun: Maverick Mission Impossible
Tom Cruise Cannes Tribute

Related: Top Gun: Maverick: Tom Cruise Didn’t Want Green Screens, Wanted To Perform Life Threatening Fighter Jet Stunts

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In the afternoon, Cruise appeared on stage for the 45 minutes masterclass, during which the actor dived into his entire career, from his very first role in Taps to becoming Ethan Hunt. After a standing ovation of nearly 2 minutes, Tom Cruise expressed his joy to finally be reunited with the public at Cannes, and called it his “honor”:

“I have to just say, after everything we’ve all been through, this is such a beautiful moment to be here in a movie theater with you, seeing your faces, and it’s such a privilege for me. It means a lot, so thank you very much.’’

Another round of applause by the public for these words. Cruise started by talking about his dream of becoming an actor when he was just 4 years old:


I wanted to make movies. And I wanted to fly planes, and I thought about my life. I wanted to have adventures in my life. I was always a kid, doing wild things, climbing the tallest trees and I was very much a dreamer (…) Would always write characters (…) When I grew up, I had jobs (…) I cut grass, shoveled snow, I would sell cards door to door. And I’d save my money and I’d go to the movies.”

“Give a little money to the family and I’d go to the movies. (…) Suddenly I’m 18 years old, and suddenly I’m making Taps. And I realize ‘This is happening, I’m on a movie set for the first time, I’m 18 years old'”.

Tom Cruise: Mission Impossible Is About “Honoring Different Cultures”

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Tom Cruise continued to explain that even though he never went to film school, he knew movies. On the movie set of Taps, he studied every single aspect of movie-making, visiting each and every department in order to understand everything that comes into making a movie. 

Traveling the world was also his dream, but he didn’t want to be just a tourist, he wanted to be someone who becomes part of different cultures and work in different countries:

“If you look at the film set I’ve produced, it’s very much pushing, trying to shoot and film in different places. I based mission impossible essentially in honoring different cultures, architectures.’’ 

He continued saying:

“I’ve grown up on movie sets, in writer’s rooms, in editing rooms. I’ve spent my life, and it’s an incredible privilege because it’s something that I’ve wanted to do. And I’ve always loved an audience, and I make my movies for audiences because I’m an audience first and foremost.’’

More and more, we see movies skipping theatrical releases (especially since the pandemic), to land directly on streaming platforms. The actor explained that experiencing a movie in a theater is extremely important because it’s where people can share opinions, exchange ideas on art and discuss important topics. 

“It’s my love, it’s my passion. I always go to movies when they come out. Put my cap on and I sit in the audience with everyone. I wanna see the trailers, I wanna see where we are. I spent a lot of time with theater owners (…) When I started studying movies, I also went into each department whether it was the agencies, the studio. I want to at least understand their jobs so that I can help them with their jobs.”


Tom Cruise Never Felt Threatened By Streaming Platforms For Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun : Maverick
Tom Cruise in Top Gun : Maverick

When asked if he ever felt pressured to release Top Gun: Maverick on streaming platforms after being held back by the pandemic for so long, Tom Cruise laughed and simply answered something that made the audience cheer one more time:

“That’s not gonna happen, ever. That is not gonna happen. That was never gonna happen, ever’’.

Cruise also said that during the pandemic, it was important to let anyone who works in a movie theatre know that Mission: Impossible and Top Gun will be coming out soon.

The movie star is always pushing the boundaries of his incredibly breathtaking and dangerous stunts. He shared an anecdote explaining where his love for action comes from: 

I think I was four and a half years old, and I had this doll, and you threw it up in the air, and it has this parachute, and It comes down, you know. And I was like ‘I really wanna do this’. And I remember taking the sheets off my bed (…), and I got on top of the roof. I looked and my mother was in the kitchen. And I jumped off the roof and it’s at that moment when you jump off the roof you think ‘This is not gonna work, it’s terrible, I’m gonna die.'”

“And I hit the ground so hard, luckily it was wet. I don’t know how it happened, I figured out after, but I think my face went past my feet as my ass hit the ground, and I saw stars in the daytime for the first time, and I remember going ‘This is interesting’’ and I thought ‘My mom’s gonna kill me’, because the sheets were dirty.’

Stunts Are Like Dancing For Tom Cruise

Tom cruise didnt want to use green screens in Top Gun sequel
A still from Top Gun: Maverick

As for the stunts, he does them because they are part of his characters, part of the story. Why do you do it?” French journalist Didier Allouch asked.

“No one asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance?’’’ answers Tom Cruise. The audience applauded him again, because yes, people love the plot, the suspense, the story. But they also love stunts. They bring people to the movie, and everyone wants to guess what kind of extreme life-risking stunt the actor will pull off next time. 

Tom cruise didnt want to use green screens in Top Gun sequel
Tom Cruise, the lead star in the Top Gun sequel

If there are three things we can retain from this masterclass is that: One, Tom Cruise isn’t just an actor, he is an absolute cinema lover, and his knowledge of movies is incredible. Two, you will never see Cruise on a streaming platform. And three, judging by the frenzy of fans on the Croisette who waited hours under the burning sun of Cannes, in the hope to get a quick glance at him, Tom Cruise is, and will always be Hollywood’s biggest action star. 


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Written by Maëlle Beauget-Uhl

Reporter and news writer with an educational background in broadcast journalism at the New York Film Academy and a professional background in entertainment reporting and news writing.