It’s been nine years since Tom Cruise worked with Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky. This week they reunite onscreen in the action-comedy Knight and Day, in which Cruise portrays Roy Miller, a covert agent, and Diaz plays June Havens, a woman caught between him and those he claims set him up. Their globetrotting adventure erupts into a series of close escapes, double-crosses, false identities as they come to realize that all they can count on is each other.
Tom Cruise talks about working with Cameron Diaz again, doing his own stunts, and falling 100 feet onto a steel beam.
What was it about Knight and Day attracted you to the project?
It had everything I love in movies. It’s a perfect mix of action, comedy and fresh, identifiable characters with a love story that feels very organic.
What interested me so much about the story of Roy and June is that everything that happens to them happens through the prism of action.
The challenge and joy for Cameron and me was finding ways to reveal our characters in the middle of these manic moments of danger – showing how Roy and Jane start to bring out the best in each other, which is the ultimate romantic idea.
Talk a little about the love story between Roy and June
Inside this wild plot, these two characters each have a dream of what might come true ‘someday.’ But then they begin to see that this dream can actually be fulfilled. I think it’s something audiences will relate to.
Every couple has a story about how they met – it’s just that Roy and June have a truly extraordinary tale behind the start of their relationship. Roy and June have the same dilemmas everyone always has in love – can I really trust this person? And who are they really? – but Roy and June’s comes with higher stakes.
The fun lies in how their relationship builds as the excitement around them mounts. That romantic tension in every scene made it some of the most intriguing action I’ve ever done.
You made Vanilla Sky with Cameron 9 years ago –what was it like to work with her again?
As soon as we took on these roles, I could not wait to see what Cameron was going to do with her character. I always wanted to make this kind of movie with Cameron. I was really excited about it because I enjoy her work in action movies. She’s talented, funny, athletic and a great actress, and this was such a winning character, I knew she’d give a winning performance.
The repartee between us was just like boom-boom-boom. Cameron’s style of humor is unique and I love the way she can mix physical comedy with a really authentic feeling of romance.
You always do your own stunts – why?
It’s challenging for me and I think it’s more exciting and entertaining for the audience. It adds something to have the camera right there with Roy the whole time. Plus I enjoy doing it.
In one stunt you fall off a roof, 100 feet without a harness, what do you remember about that?
I remember I looked at the spot where I was supposed to jump off the roof, and I saw this big steel beam where I was to land. And it had this thin little pad on it. I glanced at it and then stunt man Casey O’Neil said, ‘It’s padded. But that’s going to hurt.’
I hear you love the motorcycle scenes in this.
Motorcycle stunts and chases in movies can be a lot of fun. Top Gun was the first time I had a motorcycle scene and that was followed by Days of Thunder and then Mission: Impossible series.
I had a lot of ideas for motorcycle stunts I really wanted to put in this film, stunts that I hadn’t been able to put in my other movies. Jim and I talked a lot about those – including having Cameron come from the back of the bike to the front. She was perfect for that move because she has the physical ability to do it and was up for it.
I just want to entertain the audience, that’s what it’s about, it’s what is good for the movie, what’s best for the audience and how do we do it?
This movie is a two-hander, great characters, it has the comedy and the action and the romance and to find that balance, how do we put a new spin on this, how do we put a new spin on the action, it does derive from character.
It’s a huge moment for Cameron when her character spins around that motorcycle. I couldn’t wait to do that. We got on our motorcycles and Cameron said, ‘This will be cool. I’ve always wanted to do this.’
What was it like working with James Mangold?
I’ve wanted to work with Jim since I saw Walk the Line. I found Jim to have a very keen eye for suspense, a great understanding of romance, and also to be extremely funny. He was everything you hope for in a director when you’re crashing planes, leaping rooftops and running form bulls.