TOKYO â€” Tom Cruise loves Japan, and the Japanese certainly love the superstar actor who makes it a point to come here to promote each of his movies and interact with his fans. Cruise, who turns 44 on July 3, arrived in Japan at 4 a.m. Tuesday for a whirlwind promotional tour for â€œMission: Impossible III,â€ along with director JJ Abrams, co-stars Keri Russell and Maggie Q, as well as producer Paula Wagner.
After charming the media at a news conference at Meiji Kinenkan, Cruise donned a happi coat for a meeting with Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa who presented him with a certificate of thanks for his efforts to promote Japanese culture through his films (specifically â€œThe Last Samuraiâ€ and also for his stated desire to film parts of â€œMission: Impossible IVâ€ in Tokyo).
Cruise, who was ranked last week by Forbes magazine as the worldâ€™s most powerful celebrity, said meeting fans was the most important part of his trip. On Tuesday night, in a scene recreated from his latest film, he arrived by speedboat at Odaiba for the Japan premiere and spent an hour chatting with fans before heading off to party with â€œLast Samuraiâ€ mates Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada.
On Wednesday morning, Cruise and 150 invited guests (chosen from 30,000 applicants) from regional areas departed Tokyo aboard a specially chartered bullet train for the 150-minute journey to Shin-Osaka. During the trip, Cruise is spending a minute with each passenger and posing for a photo with every one of the 150 fans onboard. He returned to the U.S. on Wednesday night.
Distributor UIP pulled out all the stops for the visit, spending 2 billion yen on the various events. Japan, of course, is the second biggest movie market in the world and Cruiseâ€™s films have consistently been hits here, where his sometimes eccentric behavior means little. â€œI think you all know my affinity for Japan and your culture,â€ he said.
â€œMission: Impossible IIIâ€ sees Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt, now an IMF agent instructor called back into action to rescue a former team member who has been captured by a ruthless arms dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Complicating matters is the fact that Hunt now has a wife who is not aware of his true occupation.
Abrams, best known for directing the TV series â€œAlias,â€ pours on the action. Cruise certainly earns the reported $20 million he was paid, doing most of the stunts himself. â€œI asked myself a couple of times why I still do that,â€ he said. â€œThe scene where I am blown against a car on a bridge looked good when we wrote it on a Friday, but not on Monday when we filmed it. At that point, everyone was waiting around, looking at me, so I couldnâ€™t get out of it.â€
Both Cruise and Abrams (who was given the directing job by Cruise as a birthday present) wanted to inject the romance angle into the series. â€œWe wanted a love story that was action-packed and had vivid characters. This is my favorite mission,â€ said Cruise.
But not his last mission. Tokyo looms on the horizon for the next one. â€œActually, we wrote scenes for this one with Tokyo in mind, but we couldnâ€™t find the right buildings,â€ said Abrams. â€œSo in the end, we had to go to Shanghai.â€
However, Cruise knows what he would like to do for â€œM:I IV,â€ if there is one. â€œIâ€™d like to shoot in downtown Tokyo for a week. Just at night. It would be an unbelievable sequence. Of course, people might not be happy with the traffic.â€ The actor mentioned it during his meeting with Transport Minister Kitagawa who promised to cooperate.”
Cruise said he is more enthusiastic than ever about making movies. â€œI wish I could make two or three a year, but I am very particular about what I do,â€ he said. â€œWhen I was growing up, moving around, I never thought I would have the opportunity to make movies. It was a joke to even think about it. But the more I make movies, the more I appreciate it and the more I appreciate what other artists have done,â€ Cruise said, naming Muhammad Ali as his real-life hero because of his integrity and values. â€œI like to challenge myself just to see if I can do it. I love creating something together with a team, especially when it is a project close to my heart.â€
Speaking of close to his heart, the Japanese media were disappointed that he didnâ€™t bring his fiance Katie Holmes and their child Suri, as he promised he would. â€œYeah, I know,â€ Cruise said, â€œbut the trip was just too short.â€ He is still on cloud nine following the April birth. â€œIâ€™m very happy. Last Sunday was the best Fatherâ€™s Day I could have,â€ he said of his time with Holmes, Suri and his two adopted kids. â€œI think you all know what a gift children are. I feel the responsibility of that because they are the future. I feel overwhelmed with emotion at times when I look at my children. I always wanted to be a father my whole life. So Iâ€™m hoping I have 10 children,â€ he joked. (crisscross)