Tom Cruise, who the Korean press praised for his gentlemanly demeanor and warm rapport with his fans following his arrival in Seoul on Friday, remained calm and serious at a press conference for his film “Valkyrie” at the Grand Hyatt Seoul yesterday.
The conference was part of a promotional tour that began Friday when he landed in Gimpo Airport, and continued Saturday, where a hand-printing event was held at Yongsan CGV.
Flanked by “Valkyrie” director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, both of whom shot to fame following their collaboration on 1995’s “The Usual Suspects,” Cruise fielded a series of questions, primarily about his work on the film.
At one point a reporter asked Cruise, “You do not seem to have aged much since you starred in ‘Top Gun.’ What is your secret?”
“I want to see the reporter,” Cruise said, grinning.
“I’m also curious,” quipped director Singer, referring to Cruise’s ability to remain youthful. “I want to know.”
“I have no idea,” the 46-year old actor/producer answered. “I exercise. I eat. I don’t have time to sleep because I’m working and I have kids.”
“You don’t have time to age,” Singer concluded.
Singer may be on to something. Over 27 years, Cruise has starred in approximately 28 films to date, won three Golden Globes and according to news reports, took over the United Artists Studio with corporate partner Paula Wagner in 2006.
Cruise has been haunted by negative publicity about his religion, Scientology, the wobbly performance of the first film produced by Cruise under the new United Artists, “Lions for Lambs,” and the reported sudden departure of Wagner from the studio.
But his performance as a ruthless film executive in Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder,” won him rave reviews. And rumor has it that he and Stiller might be teaming up again in “Hardy Men.”
Scientology, United Artists or even the lapse of Viacom’s deal with Cruise and Wagner’s production company Cruise/Wagner Productions did not come up at yesterday’s press conference. Though there was a question regarding his daughter Suri, Cruise did not have time to answer it.
The spotlight stayed on Cruise’s second United Artists production, “Valkyrie,” a thriller that documents the failed coup d’etat led by German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Cruise, during World War II.
Based on the true story of a German count and colonel who made several attempts to assassinate Hitler, “Valkyrie,” according to Cruise, is the second film in which he plays a “real character.” The first was “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989).
“I always wanted to kill Hitler,” said Cruise during the press conference.
“The film is so layered,” Cruise added. “It is all the way down, even to the signature. The film is just layer upon layer of story. With this kind of structure, you have to be almost, haiku, with moments.”
“We have moments there where he is looking at his children and he can’t have those conversations and he must do what he must do for their future and for the future of humanity,” Cruise elaborated, referring to moments where his character is unable educate his children on the wrongdoings of the Hitler regime for fear it would implicate them in his plan.
Director Bryan Singer, who directed “X-Men” and “Superman Returns,” stressed the level of authenticity of “Valkyrie,” stating that it involved real airplanes that were “all shot live.”
“There is even a scene where Tom is in a plane flying over Germany, and I’m doing Tom’s makeup because there is no room for a makeup artist,” he said.
“The film hinges on suspense,” said Singer. “It is not a typical action war film … but there is plenty of action, plenty of excitement.”
When asked why he and the rest of the “Valkyrie” team selected Korea as the first Asian country to showcase the film, Singer answered: “The reason we are in Korea … is because it is an extraordinary rising market for films, both international and Korean films.”
“For me, it is exciting,” he added. “My father was a veteran of the Korean War. He was excited about me coming here to see how the country has evolved.”
Cruise said, “The welcome that I have received here I will never forget and I certainly appreciate it. And I love coming here, that’s why I’m here.”
Following the press conference, Cruise attended a red carpet event at the Megabox Theater in COEX at 6 p.m., putting an end to his Korean tour.
“Valkyrie,” which was released in America on Dec. 25, has received mixed reviews. According to news reports, it ranked fourth in the box office on opening weekend.
“Valkyrie” will open in theaters nationwide on Jan. 22. (Jean Oh, The Korea Herald)