In a cutthroat world dominated by rat races, you will rarely find another person genuinely looking out for you. Even less so if the person is a competitor, and still less if the rivalry is in the show business industry. It is natural to stay guarded and play your cards close to the chest when dealing with potential competition in the industry – like Will Smith did initially with Tom Cruise.
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Both Will Smith and Tom Cruise are superstars in Hollywood and have been so for quite some time. Both are titans in their own right and have dozens of features to their name. Smith has starred in all-time greats like The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and I am Legend (2007), apart from more recent titles like Gemini Man (2019). Cruise is a cross-generational action hero, and his latest work, Top Gun: Maverick (2022) was nominated for several Oscars and critically acclaimed globally.
Will Smith had once taken on Tom Cruise’s work ethic and came up miserably short
Starting out his career in the early 2000s, Will Smith was an up-and-coming actor while Tom Cruise was already a well-established star. Smith had been looking to model his promotional tours after Cruise’s own and tried to do as much.
“I started quietly monitoring all of Tom’s global promotional activities,” Smith says in his memoir, ‘Will’. “When I arrived in a country to promote my movie, I would ask the local movie executives to give me Tom’s promotional schedule. And I vowed to do two hours more than whatever he did in every country.”
Cruise always had extensive promotional tours planned for his movies in several countries, displaying exemplary dedication toward promotional activities personally.
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“Unfortunately, Tom Cruise is either a cyborg, or there are six of him,” Smith continued. “I was receiving reports of four-and-a-half-hour stretches on red carpets in Paris, London, Tokyo… In Berlin, Tom literally signed every single autograph until there was no one else who wanted one. Tom Cruise’s global promotions were the individual best in Hollywood.”
Smith was understandably awed by Cruise’s manic work ethic and dedication. The latter went on to have an even bigger positive influence on Smith’s career.
Will Smith and Tom Cruise share a great bond with each other
Will Smith’s initial dynamic towards Tom Cruise was that of a guarded person, and understandably so. It is not normal for competitors to try to help each other out, and yet that was precisely what Cruise was doing for Smith.
“Tom is one of the most open, honest, and helpful people I’ve met in Hollywood, or really anywhere,” Smith once said in an interaction with Newsweek. “I mean, how many people in his position would want me to win, want me to be a bigger and better movie star? Few people in this business want me to win like that. I was so used to competition between other artists that I just didn’t get him at first.”
What led from there on for the two actors resulted in the forging of a beautiful bond between the two of them.
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Cruise had even helped Smith with one of his biggest movies, I Am Legend. The movie portrayed Smith as a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, and Cruise provided several helpful inputs to Smith for the same.
“When I did I Am Legend, I sent him the script, and he sent me back four hours of notes and changes. He did more work on I Am Legend than I did. Now we’re looking at some projects to work on together because we have that basic understanding of each other,” Smith said at the time.
The surprising relationship that was created between the two superstars is heartwarming, to say the least, and only one example of the countless others Tom Cruise has forged with members across the industry.
Source: Showbiz Cheatsheet