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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Tom Cruise

Aired November 28, 2003 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Tom Cruise, the world's No. 1 leading man, opens up about his current love, Penelope Cruz, his former love, Nicole Kidman, his belief in the controversial Church of Scientology, plus something nobody expected and nobody's ever seen before. A rare in-depth personal hour with Tom Cruise is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We are at an incredible place. We're at the Warner Brothers Museum on the Warner Brothers lot. And if you ever get out to Hollywood or live here, make sure to come by and see this fantastic place, where you see costumes of replicas of the past. And we're spending an hour with one of the greats in American film, Tom Cruise, who's the star and co-producer of "The Last Samurai," a film that opens one week from tonight, December 5. These costumes are from that movie.

Tom Cruise is both -- you're producer of this movie?

TOM CRUISE: Yes.

KING: Well, how did -- how did...

CRUISE: With Ed Zwick and Marshall and Paula Wagner (ph).

KING: How did you come to produce?

CRUISE: Well, Ed came and talked to me, Ed Marshall (ph), and they asked Paul and I to co-produce the picture with them.

KING: And that entails what?

CRUISE: That entails two years of my life.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You get involved.

CRUISE: Yes, from beginning to end.

KING: Casting?

CRUISE: Yes, every aspect. You know, I respect Ed's choices, but definitely, I was there to discuss things with him, whatever he needed me for, and there, you know, working on the script, on the character, involved in, you know, basically, every aspect of production. I mean, from having produced "Mission Impossible" movies, we produced some pretty big pictures, but this is definitely, by far, for both Marshall, Ed, you know, Paula and myself, this is by far the biggest picture we've ever been involved in.

KING: I got to see it. It's amazing film. It's an incredible story. You were tremendous.

CRUISE: Thank you.

KING: The whole cast was great.

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: And the battle scenes. How did they pull that off? How did you do that?

CRUISE: When Ed came -- our first meeting...

KING: This is Ed Zwick?

CRUISE: Ed Zwick, the director. He came in and he told me what he wanted to do and the ambitions that he had for this picture. I read the script, John Logan's screenplay, great screenplay. And I just thought, Man, I don't know, you know? I said, This is -- I got to -- I'm on board with him. It -- a lot of work, a year prep on the picture. Every aspect -- you know, you look at battles, like the fog battle, the final battle, that was all Ed Zwick, his whole -- you know, what -- how he envisioned the picture.

KING: That's choreography, right?.

CRUISE: Choreography...

KING: I mean, heads are rolling...

(CROSSTALK)

CRUISE: Choreography -- definitely. It's all choreographed. You know, none of the horses were injured in the making of the picture. They trained eight months before. And yes, Ed Zwick, his design of the picture and the work that he did -- and you know, definitely, when you're doing things like that, when you're shooting -- you know, I've done a lot of action films, you know, producing action sequences, and you have to be still -- you know, you choreograph them, but you still have to be open for, Ah, this is -- what about this? What about this idea? But directing a scene like that, because you have a lot of story going on there...

KING: Boy, do you!

CRUISE: ... and it's -- you really have to give the geography of the battle sequence, and yet never give up the emotion and the ride and the story that's going on with these -- with these (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: It's a heck of a yarn.

CRUISE: Yes. I'm glad you feel that way.

KING: By the way, someone, when I saw it, compared it to, in a sense, "Lawrence of Arabia."

CRUISE: Wow.

KING: The difficulty of the lead character. He was a many- layered, composite...

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: ... an interesting individual in a foreign land...

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: ... fighting with those people...

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: ... against what he was supposed to fight for.

CRUISE: Very honored to be -- I remember seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" in a drive-in when I was...

KING: You're kidding.

CRUISE: No, no -- 7 years. Must have been a re-release or late runs. It was a drive-in. And it was late. And we -- you know, we used to go to drive-ins as kids. I loved drive-ins. And I remember being on top of my parent's station wagon. And they set up -- you know, I was there, you know, with the popcorn. You could hardly hear the sound, but I remember seeing the Sahara, going, Oh, my God, you know, what -- you know, I didn't understand every aspect of that picture, but I remember thinking, I -- was there a time like that? Was there a place like this? Is there a place like this? And it just took me away.

KING: Are you a natural rider of horses? I mean, you look really good on a horse.

CRUISE: I worked on it. I had to work on it. I rode...

KING: Don't tell me it was a mechanical horse.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUISE: No, no. There was -- when -- the horse strike -- there's a scene in the movie -- that was a mechanical horse. But every other -- all the riding I did. And I worked very hard. They -- they -- the physical preparation and the character preparation took me close to a year to prep for this picture.

KING: Is this in any way a true story?

CRUISE: No. It's based -- definitely, the events are true.

KING: There was the samurais...

(CROSSTALK) CRUISE: Absolutely. There was a samurai. There were people -- you know, the Japanese went out and hired people from America, all over Europe. The trade agreements -- that's all true. The times are true. It is a fictional adventure picture. But you know, when we came in, what Ed wanted to do, what we all wanted to do was to really honor that beautiful culture, you know, the Japanese culture, and honor their history and their heritage.

KING: And boy, you do it proud.

CRUISE: Well, that's...

KING: And the guy who played the samurai leader...

CRUISE: Ken Watanabe.

KING: Is he a -- I'd never seen him.

CRUISE: He's an actor in Japan and very well-known. He and Hiro Sanada, who plays his lieutenant -- very talented, wonderful, wonderful actors.

KING: You never worked with him before, did you?

CRUISE: No.

KING: Did you hit it right off?

CRUISE: Right off. Right off. I couldn't wait. You know, when I saw the tapes and -- it's -- if -- every character in this movie, by the time we hit the village, there's seven relationships we're developing -- with the children, with Taka (ph), with Katsumoto, with...

KING: Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUISE: And each actor -- he just had to be perfect in the cast and...

KING: The girl was perfect.

CRUISE: Oh, elegant. The way these actors move -- you know, Hiro Sanada has trained as a martial arts but also dance and as an actor since he was, I guess, about 5 years old, maybe in that since -- certain martial arts since he was 13. And Ken also was trained in that, of course, and Taka -- just the elegance that they have.

KING: Oh, it's phenomenal. Do you feel funny being back here? Didn't you make -- your first big film was here, right?

CRUISE: My first? Yes. It was "Risky Business."

KING: It was Warner Brothers.

CRUISE: It was Warner Brothers. It was "Risky Business."

KING: And that -- you had done -- you had done a couple movies, right?

CRUISE: Yes, I did "Taps."

KING: "Taps."

CRUISE: I did "Taps." The first thing that I did was, I worked one day on a picture called "Endless Love." And that was the first film that I ever auditioned for. And I remember going on set and not knowing -- you know, they said, Hit your marks, and I didn't -- camera angles -- you know? I'm used to watching movies, and all of a sudden, I'm inside the picture and I didn't know what I was doing. And then I did "Taps" with Tim Hutton, Sean Penn and George C. Scott, directed by Harold Becker and produced by Stanley Jaffe (ph). And that was really a great, great experience for me.

KING: But the hit was "Risky Business." It was your first starring role.

CRUISE: It was my first starring role.

KING: Then you come back to Warner Brothers. Is that...

CRUISE: I'm back at Warner Brothers.

KING: Is that kind of...

CRUISE: Oh, I didn't think of it in terms of that, actually, until you mentioned it. But I loved making this picture with them. They were very supportive of this film, and this film was -- it's not -- you know, you don't know. It's either going to work or it's going to go down the drain!

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Oh, you think it would go down?

CRUISE: No, I'm just saying it's either going to work or it won't work. You know, when -- and when you're working on a project like this -- I mean, it's a very ambitious film because here -- you know, it's -- what we were hoping to do is create this great adventure film, yet it has all of these philosophical underpinnings. And you don't know -- you just don't know how is that going to be. It's...

KING: No one is going to say, Eh.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: No one's going to say, yes, yes. You see "The Last Samurai"? Yes, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be right back with more of Tom Cruise. "The Last Samurai" opens one week from tonight, and lots more to talk about. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE LAST SAMURAI")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my son's village. We are deep in the mountains, and the winter is coming. You cannot escape.

CRUISE: Jolly good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE LAST SAMURAI")

CRUISE: You kept me alive just to speak English? Then what do you want?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know my enemy.

CRUISE: I've seen what you do to your enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of our customs seem strange to you, and the same is true of yours. For example, not to introduce yourself is considered extremely rude, even among enemies.

CRUISE: Nathan Auburn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm honored to meet you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. We're at the Warner Brothers Museum in Los Angeles, California. This is some place, huh?

CRUISE: Got the whole family here.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We're going to even have a -- well, I'll tell you about that later. Tom Cruise is our guest, the star and co-producer of "The Last Samurai." He's 27 films in 22 years, three Oscar nominations. And it would not be shocking if there were a fourth for this one. The first actor in history to star in five consecutive movies that grossed $100 million in the United States. Overall, his films have generated some $2.5 billion in box office receipts.

Does that put pressure on you, that Cruise better produce?

CRUISE: Oh, I feel -- of course, I want the studio to make their money back because they trust me and, you know, give me the money to go make the movie. And I feel, as a producer, very responsible with the money. But I want them to make their money back so I can go out and do it again, but I don't...

KING: You don't feel pressure? CRUISE: No. No, I don't. I feel pressure as an actor and wanting to create an environment that's going to be great for the other actors, and as a producer, contributing that overall environment that's going to let the picture be the best that it can be.

KING: You're also one...

CRUISE: I mean, that's -- I feel that's my responsibility.

KING: And you're one of the hardest working people, as everyone says. Tom Cruise will not be afraid to take 27 takes.

CRUISE: No. No. Not at all.

KING: You want it right.

CRUISE: I want it right.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Let's get into some other areas. There's a new book coming out on you called "Cruise Control." Have you heard about it?

CRUISE: No, I haven't.

KING: Wensley Clarkson (ph). Do you know him?

CRUISE: No.

KING: He wrote it. And he writes that Cruise is not all the all-American hero he is on film. He's a slightly dysfunctional guy. He had a very tough childhood, and he trusts no one but his mother and his sisters. That true?

CRUISE: Well, you can tell this guy doesn't know me.

(LAUGHTER)

CRUISE: That's not true. It's not true. I mean, did I have a challenging life? That aspect, absolutely. Absolutely. But I also -- my childhood, I had -- there were some great things in that. And I trust people beyond...

KING: Where'd you grow up?

CRUISE: ... my mother and my family. But they are close friends. I mean, I traveled -- I lived in Jersey a couple of times, Canada, Kentucky, Saint Louis, Cincinnati. I was born in Syracuse.

KING: Always want to be an actor?

CRUISE: I remember, as a kid, I used to do imitations. I used to do different characters, and I enjoyed -- my mother was involved in amateur theater, and I was involved in creative workshops when I was about 8, 9 years old. But I remember in high school, that's when I decided -- after my senior year of high school is really when I decided that I wanted to go on to...

KING: So when you hear something like this, a guy writes a book, or, tabloids and things, and they're absurdities, or to you they're not -- how do you react -- or are you immune to it, at this point?

CRUISE: Well, it's all about me, yet they -- they never ask me. They've never interviewed me. So I don't know. I haven't read the whole thing.

KING: But do you react -- when you see things about you that are wrong, do you get angry?

CRUISE: Well, it depends. You know, I spend most of my life on my work, my family. And I concentrate on those things. If it's too outrageous and -- and -- you know, I used to let things slip by, but sometimes I'll go and handle it, you know, and...

KING: You've gone to court.

CRUISE: Oh, yes. I've never lost, actually. I go to court. So...

KING: Well, we have the same lawyer, Burt Field (ph).

CRUISE: Oh, he's great. Bert.

KING: You don't lose many.

CRUISE: No!

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But you're not afraid to take action.

CRUISE: No, I'm not. No, I'm not. I've -- I'll ask for an apology first and a retraction. And if that doesn't happen, then I'll go and pursue it further.

KING: What does it do to you, though, emotionally?

CRUISE: It's something where you go -- you know, it just depends on each one. There's ones where you go -- I'm more thinking about my children. You know, it's not me. I think when we had children, that's when you kind of go, You know -- because what do these people -- what do they -- what sells? You know, they want controversy. They want big names. And some people, it's all for profit. It's their profit. It's not even necessarily about accuracy, it's about, How can we make money? You know, How can we sell -- what they think will sell something. And you learn -- that's why -- you know, I produced a picture called "Shattered Glass." I mean, it's -- I don't know if you've seen it...

KING: Not yet.

CRUISE: ... but it's about the writer from "The New Republic."

KING: Who lied.

CRUISE: Who lied, and then, you know, later, you know, it came out in "The New York Times." Well, I feel -- because I'm someone, when I say something, I feel responsibility for that, or if I do something, I take responsibility for what I've done. I -- you know, there's -- if someone is going to say something and base it on -- you know, they better know -- they better know the facts. And that's -- I think that people deserve that, deserve the truth. But some people can't handle the truth.

KING: You know, Frank Sinatra said about writers like that, once he told me they live off the real or imagined fortunes or misfortunes of those with incredibly more talent than they have.

CRUISE: Yes. No question. No, it's parasitic.

KING: Yes.

CRUISE: It's parasitic. But there are people out there who want to tell the truth, who really care and want to write something accurate. But there are those that don't.

KING: Once you enter this business, do you feel that we -- the collective we -- have a right to your personal life?

CRUISE: I wouldn't put yourself in that "we" because I think you're responsible in what you do, and I think that that's why you've been around as long as you have, and you're respected. But the -- I don't feel that I have to give anything that I don't want to. I don't feel -- you know, communication is my right, both ways.

KING: It's not a court.

CRUISE: No. It's not court. So there's things I go, Hey, you know what? There's certain things that you say -- you know, I've got nothing to hide, and I enjoy people. I enjoy talking to people.

KING: Obviously.

CRUISE: I enjoy meeting people and doing what I do, working with people that I've worked with. So I also am not stupid to know that privacy is going to be -- certain aspects -- certain parts of it are going to be given up. But when I get asked certain questions, I don't feel obligated to have to answer them.

KING: Do you think all you owe the audience, really, is a good performance, or do you owe them more than that?

CRUISE: Well, I think -- you know, I take pride in my work. It's -- I don't think it's a matter of -- I don't get into owing or not owing or -- I really don't -- you know, people want to write stuff? OK, write it. I would prefer if they would be accurate in what they write or...

KING: Why not just call you?

CRUISE: Yes. And ask. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CRUISE: But I don't -- I don't spend a lot of my life worrying about -- that's not a huge upset in my life and a worry about it. I focus in on...

KING: What you're doing.

CRUISE: ... on what I'm doing and what's at hand.

KING: Tom Cruise is our guest. He's star and co-producer of "The Last Samurai," a terrific movie. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CLIP FROM "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE LAST SAMURAI")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir? The imperial army of Japan demands your surrender. If you and your fellows lay down your arms, you will not be harmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not possible, as Mr. Omland (ph) knows.

CRUISE: Captain Omland, we will show you no quarter. You ride against us, and you're the same as they are. I'll look for you on the field.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Tom Cruise at the Warner Brothers Museum in advance of the opening of "The Last Samurai," which could get him his fourth Oscar nomination. He's terrific in it, and it's a heck of a movie. And you can trust me when I tell you this. And if you didn't like it, there's something wrong with you.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I don't know, what else can I say?

I learned something about you I never knew, that you were dyslexic and are dyslexic.

CRUISE: No, I'm not.

KING: What are you?

CRUISE: I'm not dyslexic.

KING: What -- do you have a problem with reading or writing?

CRUISE: No. No, I don't.

KING: And where did that come from?

CRUISE: Well, I was labeled with it when I was 7 years old and kind of lived with it my whole life. And you know, when I became a Scientologist in '86, '87, later on discovered also L. Ron Hubbard developed study technology that actually -- to help me realize that that -- you know, that the false labels that are out there...

KING: You were never dyslexic?

CRUISE: No. No, I wasn't.

KING: Why did they label you?

CRUISE: Because that's what they do.

KING: Were you having trouble reading?

CRUISE: That's what they do. No. And later on -- I mean, now we have, you know, this technology that he developed that actually helps people to learn how to learn and discover that -- you know, these -- I've actually helped people that have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD. And it's extraordinary, what happens with this technology. We have centers all over the world now that help people get this technology, and it's also in various schools and educated millions and millions and millions of people in it.

KING: I interviewed him once.

CRUISE: I know! You told me that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... science fiction writer...

(CROSSTALK)

CRUISE: Oh, my God!

KING: What drew you to Scientology?

CRUISE: Well...

KING: Did you grow up in a faith?

CRUISE: Different faiths. Different faiths. And what drew me to it -- it was so practical and it just made sense to me, and things that I wanted to figure out in my life. And I always -- what I discovered were the tools that helped me. You know, Scientology, the word means knowing how to know. And there are tools that I use every day as an artist, as a businessman -- you know, you look at it just this way. I was diagnosed being dyslexic. I came in, learned these tools, and now I -- you know, I mean, my literacy is -- it is where it is, and it'll go where I want it to go with these tools. It just kind of melts barriers, breaks them down. It helps you to recognize and understand the barriers and then overcome them. And it's just...

KING: So you use it in every facet of your life.

CRUISE: Yes because it is -- there's areas -- you know, you look at what we do with education, with, you know, helping people, getting them these tools -- if they're Christian, you know, they can read their Bible. If they're -- you know, it doesn't matter, whatever faith, atheists (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Why is it so controversial?

CRUISE: It's not that controversial.

KING: I mean, the FBI looks at it...

CRUISE: No, it doesn't.

KING: ... investigate it. Remember that...

CRUISE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: They wanted to raid their books. They tried to get...

CRUISE: Oh, that was -- you're talking decades...

KING: Yes, I know.

CRUISE: ... decades ago.

KING: I mean, they tried to get them not get -- get a religious deduction.

CRUISE: Well, that's all gone now.

KING: I know.

CRUISE: I mean, it -- definitely, now it does have its...

KING: Oh, I know.

CRUISE: ... religious...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But it went through that...

CRUISE: ... recognized as a religion. Well, it's new. It was a new religion. It's also -- there's things that we do -- you know, you have to look at -- you look at the services and the things that we help. Narcanon is something that LRH developed that helps people get off drugs. And once you're off the drugs, you don't ever need those drugs again. And it's the largest drug rehabilitation center in the world. You look at Crimanon that he developed and found, which actually helps to rehabilitate criminals and used in you know -- in some of the toughest prisons in South Africa, and those prisoners have never gone back to the prisons. You look at his -- the moral -- secular moral code that he wrote, called "The Way to Happiness," that's used by, you know, communities in the world all over.

These things -- you know, any time -- where there's ignorance about something or people don't want to know about something, you know, it really gets back to gossip or, you know, just people don't know something, there you have racism. There you have bigotry. And that's where those things stem from. But when people come in and see what it is, people thank me for the things that I contribute to it and what we do. You look at our volunteer ministers and how they helped at the World Trade Center and...

KING: Is it faith?

CRUISE: Is it a faith? It's an applied religious philosophy, is what it is. It's a religion, but it's something that you apply to yourself, you apply to life. There is -- I mean, it's such a wide range, from business technology to help someone run their business better, tools that you use in your life that help improve conditions. We improve conditions. And those are the things that we do. We educate people on -- about the realities of drugs. And it's -- it's an individual's choice, you know, on things -- on how you want you to live your life. What do you want from your life?

KING: Do you proselytize? Do you try to get others to come into the movement or into the...

CRUISE: Well, you know, I talk to people about it. I mean, if you know -- if you know how to -- I've actually personally educated people and helped them with the study technology, to help get them off, you know, these vicious drugs that psychiatrists so -- you know, that they proselytize, you know, that they sell to people.

KING: Yes, it's anti-psychiatric, right?

CRUISE: Oh, most definitely.

KING: Yes. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CRUISE: No, I mean, psychiatry doesn't work. You look at the things that psychiatry's brought to society. We now are living in a time where we spend over $700 billion a year on education, psych- driven, and where are we? We have still a decline in illiteracy. We know that electroconvulsive shock therapy, you know, drugging people, OK, with these vicious drugs -- when Prozac came out, it had the -- you know, the biggest -- I mean, in the first few months or a year, it had 14,000 complaints on that drug, yet it's still out there. You look at Paxil, OK, that's now banned in the United Kingdom for under 18 because of the vicious side effects of those drugs.

So here we talk about things that we know -- OK, if someone can't read, we know that we can give them these tools and help them to read. And it doesn't matter what religion you are, these things work. If you're on drugs, we can help get you off drugs. If you're a criminal, we can give you -- there's technology that he developed to help you not be a criminal.

KING: Tom Cruise. Passion, as well. "The Last Samurai" opens a week from tonight. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "MINORITY REPORT")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John? Don't run.

CRUISE: You have to chase me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUISE: I tell you what I do know is you got a little stoned tonight, you've been trying to pick a fight with me and now you're trying to make me jealous.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: But you're not the jealous type are you.

CRUISE: No, I'm not.

KIDMAN: You've never been jealous about me have you?

CRUISE: No, I haven't.

KIDMAN: And why haven't you ever been jealous about me?

CRUISE: Well, I don't know Alice, maybe because you're my wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Tom Cruise. The movie is "The Last Samurai." In our last segment tonight, we're going to show you how I could have been in that film, Jewish Samurai. That would have been a story line a Jewish Samurai. A wanderer from Israel comes...

Every time we talk, we talk about how you love Nicole Kidman. Right? You love her. What does that mean? Why aren't you with her, then? I mean, people ask me. They say, "They really love each other. He loves her. He talks about her. He calls her when she wins awards. He praises her..."

CRUISE: You don't have to be -- to not feel that way, once you go through something that we've gone through. We've lived a life together, you know? I'm now with Penelope Cruz, and she is with -- with, you know, another. She's with -- Lenny Kravitz.

KING: Lenny Kravitz.

CRUISE: So you have to say that...

KING: That jumped right at us.

CRUISE: It jumped right at us. Come on. No, really. He's a very talented musician.

But you know, you can love someone and know that it's not right for you. Just because you love someone doesn't mean that it's...

KING: I know, but we're raising in a society that says, "Gee, if you're in love, you should be with someone."

CRUISE: I don't care what society says. I don't know what it have to be that way.

KING: How are the kids?

CRUISE: They're doing great.

KING: How do you handle time with each -- both of you so busy?

CRUISE: See, these things, we keep very private in terms of that. We both -- we both spend a lot of time with the kids. A tremendous amount of time.

KING: Do they like what you do?

CRUISE: Yes, of course. Yes.

KING: Get to see their Dad.

CRUISE: Yes. Yes. Both of us.

KING: Do you think about them when you make -- have you ever turned down a role because the kids maybe wouldn't have liked it?

CRUISE: No, I haven't -- I mean, I haven't faced that yet. I haven't...

KING: But you're about to play a villain, right?

CRUISE: Well, he's a contract killer...

KING: Killer. Why did you take that? Is this a Michael Mann?

CRUISE: Yes. Michael Mann.

KING: What's the name of this one?

CRUISE: Untitled.

KING: That's a good name. He thought -- this guy kills...

CRUISE: You've got to see the movie.

KING: I know, but why -- normally, the Cruise image is not this. Are you working against type? CRUISE: No. I make movies that I'm interested in. I'm an actor, and so I play all different kinds of roles, whether it's, you know "Born on the Fourth of July," "Rainman," "Magnolia," "Interview With A Vampire," all different kinds of movies that I enjoy as an audience to see.

And as an actor, I'm interested in playing different kinds of roles. And if -- there's a great screenplay. I'm doing it with Jamie Foxx, and Jada Pinkett and Michael Mann directing.

KING: All right. Is it different for you -- is this why you have the little beard?

CRUISE: That's why I've got the beard going, man.

KING: Is it different for you to play someone that I may not like? Because I've liked every character you've played.

CRUISE: Well, you have to just wait and see the movie. We'll have a discussion after the movie.

KING: OK. We'll have a discussion...

CRUISE: We'll have a discussion. When you see the movie, then we'll talk about that. But it is a thriller, and it has humor. It -- Michael Mann is directing this. Great filmmaker. And you know, you look at -- It just has -- It's a great script.

KING: You really get involved on a movie.

CRUISE: I love it. I love what I do. I take great pride in what I do.

KING: Ever turned down anything you felt sorry you did?

CRUISE: No.

KING: What is your judgment -- when you get a script, what are you looking at? The total picture? Your partners?

CRUISE: The first time I read it, I'm the audience. I'm just reading something. And as an artist, I'm looking for a challenge. I've always been looking for a challenge.

And whether it's, you know, "Mission: Impossibles," for me are a producorial challenge, in the same way as a producer on this picture. You, you know, learn a lot. There's -- you know, it's a great challenge, being involved in a picture like this. I'm glad that, you know, I had Paula and Ed and Marshall. And all of us together, working together, because it was our collective minds working on this piece, bringing in a team together to make it happen.

But as an actor, I'm really looking for an artistic challenge and a journey. How is -- you know, the people that I'm involved in, how do I feel about them? What are their vision? Do I want to contribute to that vision? What do I feel that I want to explore in the character?

Those are the things that I look at, and it's more just how do I feel about it?

KING: Why do you like films so much? You don't do stage do you?

CRUISE: You know, I used to do -- I've done amateur theater and stuff like that. But I love movies. I love the medium. It's -- I just find it very exciting and involving.

Also, I like a sense, for me, with film there's -- I love film. I love film on many different levels: the creative aspect of filming, the relationships that you form, the, you know, the artistic journey, the problem solving as a producer.

KING: On a bet, would you go back to Broadway? Would you go to Broadway? You haven't been on Broadway. Would you go to Broadway?

CRUISE: On a what? On a bet?

KING: On a bet. I mean, suppose someone hands you a play, and you read it and you loved it.

CRUISE: I've never rule that out. I would never rule that out.

KING: I'd love to see you on...

CRUISE: Maybe I will one day. Maybe I will try that. I'm having so much fun at what I'm doing right now, and I've worked very hard at this. And I -- something that, the challenges, they never end. Every -- every time you go out, it's different.

KING: And you've made a sum of 27 movies. That's not bad.

CRUISE: Not bad.

KING: You're going to make it. You watch this.

We'll be right back with Tom Cruise. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUISE: I'm a Vietnam veteran. I'm here tonight to say that this war is wrong. That this society lied to me, it lied to my brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't you shut up?

CRUISE: The people in this country. Tricked them into going 13,000 miles to fight a war against a poor peasant people who have a proud history of resistance. Who have been struggling for their own, their own independence for 1,000 years, the Vietnamese people. I can't -- I can't find the words to express how the leadership of this government sickens me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "OPEN YOUR EYES")

CRUISE: Just our shortcomings. That's all we're allowed to draw.

PENELOPE CRUZ, ACTRESS: Done.

CRUISE: That's how you see me?

CRUZ: Maybe I didn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CRUISE: No, it's wonderful. Sign it.

CRUZ: Let's see yours.

CRUISE: No.

CRUZ: I feel bad. I used it to draw a caricature.

CRUISE: Well, I couldn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Tom Cruise, who by the way tells me he wouldn't mind some day being a father again. Right?

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: Marrying again?

CRUISE: Wouldn't rule that out.

KING: You're hoping to -- all of life's...

CRUISE: Penelope and I are -- have no future plans for marriage, but...

KING: You're not ruling it out.

CRUISE: No. I love her. She's a beautiful woman.

KING: So you have a committed relationship?

CRUISE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Isn't it hard for you?

CRUISE: Having a committed relationship?

KING: Yes. Yes. I'm asking you honestly, you're a great- looking guy. Temptations are everywhere. Is it hard?

CRUISE: No, because I -- I like relationships. I'm not really interested in the one-night stand. And the people that I get involved with, I'm involved. I don't -- I'm not interested in that, you know.

KING: But what...

CRUISE: To me, it's like, you know, you look at what kind of -- I enjoy that dynamic. And there's also -- I wouldn't, if I don't want to be in a relationship, you know, I wouldn't be in a relationship.

KING: You don't need variety or...

CRUISE: No. No.

KING: Well, some people do.

CRUISE: No. And also, if -- you know, I'm enjoying the relationship that I'm in very much.

KING: OK. A couple of other things. You got involved in the toxic environment problem around ground zero, and you established the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project.

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: Which you fund?

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: It's the project based on your own principles of Scientology, 175 people, firefighters and rescue workers, go through it? What does it do?

CRUISE: It's great. It's actually -- it's based on the research. It's -- Hubbard developed it. What happens is that Hubbard developed a thing that's based on clear body, clear mind. He figured out how to eliminate toxins from the body. And it does just that.

Doctors do not know how to diagnose chemical exposures, because it can actually have mental ramifications. You know, people feeling depressed, up and down. You know, we've had people go through -- you know, there's one woman who doctors were going to put a steel bar in her chest because she was having trouble breathing.

The toxic effects of 9/11 -- I remember the day that it happened. I realized, this is a disaster. You don't have to be a, you know -- I mean, you just look at -- look at the towers. Look at the computers that are going to burn, you know. Look at the building, the dust, how that's...

KING: Self-evident.

CRUISE: Self-evident. And how the toxics, you know, because I've done -- I've gone through the detox myself, and it gets the toxins out of the body. So that these guys that have come on and they were on -- I mean, that amount of drugs that some of these guys were on. And they essentially thought they were going to have to retire.

KING: Firefighters? CRUISE: Firefighters and the, you know, the EMTs, the whole gang. We've been trying to, you know, get it out there so that this is available. Because it's really -- the miracles that have occurred there, it would -- and if you were ever in New York, I'd love for you to see it.

KING: Oh?

CRUISE: Personally just go down and take a look at it.

KING: I was down at 9/11 two weeks ago (ph).

CRUISE: I know. But you go down and you see what these -- you know, because people are saying afterwards, you know. I was looking and I was thinking, OK, what about the people who lived? What about -- you know, what about them? What's going to happen when you start talking about the, you know, leukemia, Parkinson like symptoms, M.S. that they're going to have. Or the children now that have breathing problems as a result of this.

And this is something that handles it. It gets through, you know. They're no longer on these drugs. And they get on this program.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CRUISE: No. It's -- It is a charity, so it's not tax deductible. And there's things where people come in and we've gotten donations from people to help them out. Nobody's making any money off this. This is just to help people, to help them go -- you know, to help them. It's also something that we also use in Narcanon that helps get the drugs out of their system.

KING: So firemen on 9/11 came out not only with physical and toxic problems, but emotional problems from that, as well.

CRUISE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's compounded that. You go to a doctor and now he's going to put you on more and more drugs, steroids and things that are ineffective.

You know, you just look at the rescue workers, the people who lived down in those areas. What happens is those toxins go in, and they reside in the fat tissue, OK? And they just sit there. There's no way of getting that out. So long-term, you're talking about various cancers. It's horrific.

And what this will really help them to get that out.

KING: I'd like to go see.

CRUISE: Yes. I'd love for you to see it.

KING: Where were you that morning, by the way?

CRUISE: I was here in L.A. I was here in L.A. And I went in and I saw that happening. And... KING: Well.

CRUISE: But there's a thing. That's why I started this, because I looked at those men and women, you know. And the -- friends of mine went, who were volunteer ministers. And they went down and they -- volunteer ministers were working down in -- at, you know, helping set up lines and giving different things in Scientology that we have, assists, setting up food to help these people. And that's why I set up the detox, because I thought about them afterwards. And I started...

KING: You thought about it right away?

CRUISE: Right away. Right away. Right away. Because some people, it's like we -- there's things that we can do to help. And...

KING: Obviously.

CRUISE: ... Scientologists want to help people.

KING: When we come back with Tom Cruise, this table will no longer be here. And we're going to have a samurai fight. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. You like this? "The Last Samurai" opens one week from tonight. I could have been in the movie. But Tom and I are going to go at it here, right?

CRUISE: You're Jimbo, right?

KING: Did you get hurt in this movie? Did you get cut?

CRUISE: No. I had a few close calls. I got hit a couple of times, but...

KING: No close calls tonight.

CRUISE: No. No close calls.

KING: What do I do? What do I do?

CRUISE: OK. Reach up and take this hand, and pull it -- hold it, hold it. OK. Go like that.

KING: Right.

CRUISE: OK. And now slowly pull it out. Normally -- slowly pull it out.

KING: Hey, you didn't pull it out slow.

CRUISE: I don't want you to hurt yourself. I've done it a few thousands times already.

KING: You can hurt yourself pulling it out?

CRUISE: Of course.

KING: OK. Now it's out.

CRUISE: All right. See, you've got the whole outfit going. Now grab it -- grab it with the other hand. Keep it like this.

Now you feel how relaxed it is? Like a baseball bat, isn't it?

KING: Feels good.

CUIRSE: You want to keep the wrist relaxed. OK. Right. And then you want to -- yes, there you go. You want to block like that.

And come down -- easy. And that's going to -- bring it all the way down. OK. See, and it slides off. And I'm going to come back down.

What you normally do is you don't normally stop it like that. Like, if you're swinging at my head, OK? You're bringing it right down on my head. See, if you're really swinging hard, that's going to slide right off, OK?

So actually, fights don't last long, because once you go down like that, you know, and you make a mistake, it's going to be bye-bye.

KING: ...to me. I see what you mean. But they also yell a lot. Well, they're kind of...

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: Ya!

CRUISE: Right. You know, whatever comes out when a sword's coming at you. You know, that ronin fight, we actually did that from beginning to end, that scene. It's in cuts, but the way -- that's what took me so long to learn how to do this. You know, I fought all those five guys right from the beginning of the fight all the way to the end. There weren't any cuts for me.

KING: And no one got wounded?

CRUISE: There's cuts for the audience, but none for me.

KING: No one got hurt?

CRUISE: No. No one got hurt. We trained...

KING: I like the way you do that with the -- I like this, you know.

CRUISE: You get to wear it. It's kind of cool. It is. You've got the feel. Let's go, man. See, it's not -- wait for it!

See. OK. KING: Are you afraid?

CRUISE: Am I afraid?

KING: Don't be afraid.

CRUISE: I just, you know -- I just don't want to hurt you, Larry.

So there you go. Bring it down.

KING: I didn't slide off.

CRUISE: You see?

It would if you -- well, if you're going like that, then...

KING: Oh, no!

CRUISE: Are you OK? Are you OK? Yes?

KING: Yes, I'm fine.

CRUISE: All right.

KING: I just thought you wanted to go...

CRUISE: I'm not going to bring it. I'm not going to bring it. We go nice and easy, nice and easy.

You know, the samurai sword is -- it's folded thousands of times, pounded, folded, pounded, folded, pounded, folded. It takes, I guess, back then during this time period, it would take -- you could take four, six months to make one sword. Take a long time. It's -- the samurai sword is the greatest sword ever made in the history of this planet.

KING: One of the great scenes is when you're outnumbered and you come back again and fight.

CRUISE: Well, that's the ronin. That's...

KING: The regular soldiers look at you with such pride, and they're so enamored of you. You have what they didn't have. And they put down their weapons and stop shooting. That's one of the great scenes I've ever seen on film.

CRUISE: Ed Zwick. When I read it -- when I read it in the screenplay, I lost it. I said, "How did you think of that, man?"

KING: Can we...

CRUISE: Want to learn how to do that?

KING: Yes.

CRUISE: OK. Sure. Just relax. Let it relax. Use those two fingers...

KING: This could be a new career. "Last Samurai 2."

CRUISE: "The Very Last Samurai."

KING: No. The sequel.

CRUISE: "The Lastest Samurai."

KING: "The Lastest Samurai."

CRUISE: And then you?

KING: You come back. With your Japanese wife, you come back to take on this new guy who has taken over.

CRUISE: The Grand Master.

KING: The Grand Master, me.

CRUISE: You start training now.

KING: Yah!

I'll be back, in a minute to tell you about next week.

CRUISE: Let's -- let's...

KING: To tell you about tomorrow. To tell you about something.

"The Last Samurai" opens one week from tonight...

CRUISE: I'm just trying, just trying to stay alive here now.

KING: We'll be right back.

How much are you insured for?

We'll be right back.

CRUISE: Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with him and me.

CRUISE: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thanks. Hope you enjoyed it.

CRUISE: Thank you.

And see you tomorrow night. Stay tuned now for Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT." And goodnight.

CRUISE: Thank you, sir.

KING: Say goodnight, Tom.

CRUISE: Good night, Tom.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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