He has become as ubiquitous to the British summer as strawberries and cream and the occasional thunderous downpour. Wherever you look, it seems, there is Tom Cruise – and his million-dollar smile.
From the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to yesterday’s ladies’ final at Wimbledon, concerts by Adele and The Rolling Stones in London’s Hyde Park and cheering on his friend Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s British Grand Prix, the once-reclusive Hollywood A-lister is popping up everywhere.
But why, you may ask, is the quintessentially all-American megastar – whose latest blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick, has taken more than $1billion at the global box office – suddenly over here so much?
The answer, according to one of his long-term associates, is that Cruise now considers himself ‘an honorary Brit’.
He has become as ubiquitous to the British summer as strawberries and cream and the occasional thunderous downpour. Wherever you look, it seems, there is Tom Cruise – and his million-dollar smile
‘He’s fallen in love with everything about the UK,’ the source who worked with Cruise told the MoS.
‘His daughter lives here, he enjoys a good cuppa and he loves the fact he can be himself. The biggest thing is he’s developed a proper circle of friends. He’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him.’
Last weekend, Cruise celebrated his 60th birthday at Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds with some of those within his inner sanctum, including David Beckham, Gordon Ramsay and James Corden.
Actor Simon Pegg, his Mission: Impossible co-star, was also there.
Pegg explained: ‘He likes me because I make him laugh.’
Perhaps the most extraordinary new friendship is with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Much was made of the fact that Cruise gallantly took Kate’s hand to guide her up stairs on the red carpet at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in Leicester Square in May, with some critics saying his gesture was ‘overly-familiar’.
But sources tell the MoS the actor is a ‘huge fan’ of the Cambridges, adding that their friendship ‘is warm and professional’ and it was William and Kate who encouraged Cruise to be included in the opening night of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
Last October, Cruise is understood to have invited William and Kate to a screening of the new Top Gun movie at a cinema in Leicester Square. It was one of the first early previews and tapes were sent over from America especially.
There is another, far more personal reason Cruise has chosen to spend so much time in the UK. His daughter Isabella, 29, whom he adopted during his marriage to Nicole Kidman, lives, rather improbably, in Croydon, with her British husband Max Parker, an IT consultant she married seven years ago
The source added: ‘It has turned into quite a special friendship. He was so happy to be involved in the Jubilee proceedings.
‘There was chatter that Kate and William asked him to do it. It wouldn’t be surprising because he adores the Royal Family.’
The love affair with Britain for workaholic Cruise began when he moved here shortly before the pandemic hit to make back-to-back Mission: Impossible films (officially known as Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One and Part Two, which will be released in the next two years). Filming is to restart on Mission: Impossible this week, this time in the Lake District, which is said to please the actor because of his love for the British countryside.
He plans to be in the UK until the beginning of next year.
The 5ft 7in star had sold his $39million Beverly Hills mansion and moved into a penthouse in Clearwater, Florida, in a building owned by the Church of Scientology, the controversial religion Cruise has followed since his 20s.
But by the time he arrived in the UK, he appeared ‘rudderless’, according to one person in his professional circle.
The LA source said: ‘The thing about Tom in Hollywood is that you never saw him out and about. He was almost a recluse. He’d do the red carpet to promote his movies but I only ever saw him with family members or staff.
‘It always struck me he didn’t appear to have any friends outside his family and church. At events, he was this little figure inside a circle of bodyguards.
‘He was extremely professional but withdrawn. Seeing him now is a total transformation. He’s genuinely happy, he is out all the time and he doesn’t have an entourage of security around him like he did in the States. He’s posing for selfies and he has a freedom in the UK I don’t think he ever had here.’
Sources tell the MoS the actor is a ‘huge fan’ of the Cambridges, adding that their friendship ‘is warm and professional’ and it was William and Kate who encouraged Cruise to be included in the opening night of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June
Indeed, Cruise’s life today is a far cry from the days he spent holed up in his isolated Hollywood estate high in the hills above LA.
He lives in a six-bedroom Knightsbridge penthouse apartment overlooking Hyde Park, where, with baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, he enjoys early morning jogs with his trainer.
‘He’s never recognised,’ says a source close to him. ‘He wants to fit in, to look like any other local going for a run. He loves that he can enjoy the park without anyone realising who he is. That’s something that wouldn’t happen for him in Los Angeles. Tom can blend in, be one of the boys.’
Cruise is regularly spotted in his favourite restaurants. On Monday he had dinner with a group of pals including Serena Williams and Natalie Portman at Novikov – actually two restaurants under one roof, Italian and Asian – sipping his favourite Earl Grey tea.
He is also partial to a ‘proper’ cup of PG Tips, according to a Mission: Impossible crew member who also heard Cruise raving about a love of Guinness.
In London, he prefers to walk or go incognito in a black cab.
But he also uses his matt-black Eurocopter AS50 helicopter ‘the way other people use a car’. The chopper is based at Battersea helipad and Cruise often flies it solo to Richmond Golf Club where he parks it next to the ninth hole and has lunch in the Grade I listed clubhouse.
Last summer a family in Warwickshire were stunned when he landed in their garden because the local airport in Coventry was closed and he had a meeting nearby.
Mum Alison Webb said: ‘He arrived and got out and it was like, ‘Wow.’ He went straight over to the children for a chat, then came over and elbow-bumped us and said, ‘Thank you very much.’ ‘
The star flies to Soho Farmhouse, the Chipping Norton retreat beloved of celebrities including Meghan Markle, Kate Moss and David Beckham.
The reviews for Top Gun: Maverick have been the best of Cruise’s career and he reportedly received a ‘back end’ deal which included a cut of the profits which could be worth as much as $100million. ‘Tom’s image has never been better. The UK has been good for him. He’s smiling all the time, he’s taking selfies, people love that he’s accessible,’ the associate added
Cruise, a football fan, has known Beckham since the former England captain played for LA Galaxy from 2007 to 2012. ‘Tom’s a genuine football fan,’ said an LA source, who believes Cruise went to last summer’s Euro finals as a guest of the Beckhams.
England captain Harry Kane revealed that Cruise FaceTimed the team, saying: ‘He just dialled in to wish us the best as a group, so that was nice of him.’
The LA source quipped: ‘They’re supposedly so close the Beckhams named their youngest son Cruz after him, but I have no idea if that’s true or not.’
There is another, far more personal reason Cruise has chosen to spend so much time in the UK. His daughter Isabella, 29, whom he adopted during his marriage to Nicole Kidman, lives, rather improbably, in Croydon, with her British husband Max Parker, an IT consultant she married seven years ago.
The couple share a modest semi-detached home in the South London suburb and Isabella drives an ancient Fiat 500 car.
‘Bella is low-key and very close to her dad,’ an acquaintance of Cruise told the MoS. ‘They see each other all the time. Croydon isn’t where you’d expect someone like her to live but she enjoys living under the radar.’
Cruise also remains close to his son Connor, 27, whom he also adopted with Kidman.
Now a DJ and chef, he splits his time between Clearwater in the US and London. The Hollywood star regularly talks to youngest daughter Suri, 16, his child with his third wife, actress Katie Holmes.
There was a brief first marriage to Mimi Rogers, who infamously joked in a 1993 interview that their three-year marriage ended because ‘Tom was seriously thinking of becoming a monk… he thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument.’
While there have been reports in the US that Cruise and Suri have been estranged, that is ‘simply not true’, according to someone familiar with the situation.
‘Tom’s in the UK but he keeps in touch with Suri the way a lot of us keep in touch with family members since Covid – over Zoom. You have to understand he’s spending most of his time in the UK now.
‘At first it was for work but now it’s for pleasure. He considers himself an honorary Brit.’
Cruise, like many Americans, is fascinated by his family roots. Though his parents are from Kentucky, the family name Mapother (Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in 1962) is from Devon. Genealogists have traced the first known appearance of the name to Devon in the 13th Century. On his maternal side, the Cruises originally came from Ireland.
Dillon Henry Mapother, the actor’s paternal great-great-grandfather, sailed from Liverpool to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1850 and married his great-great-grandmother, Mary Pauline Cruise.
When Dillon died, Mary remarried a man called Thomas O’Mara and had a son, Tom.
For reasons unknown, when Thomas senior died, son Tom took his mother’s maiden name, Cruise, and her first husband’s surname, Mapother, becoming the first Thomas Cruise Mapother.
Cruise has extensively researched the English and Irish side of his family, saying: ‘To learn about the history of my family – it was incredible.’ Romance has also kept him in the UK. A two-year relationship with his Mission: Impossible co-star Hayley Atwell ended recently but newly-single Cruise is far from lonely.
‘He has a tight circle of friends,’ a source who worked on one of his projects said. ‘He’s really grounded in the UK. He’s out there dating. He genuinely seems to have a new lease on life.’
Cruise’s metamorphosis has transformed his image, which took a hit in the mid-2000s with his infamous couch-jumping antics on the Oprah chatshow when he declared his love for then-fiancee Katie Holmes.
Videos of him speaking at a Scientology gathering surfaced, and he clashed with a US TV host over the use of anti-depressants to treat psychiatric disorders, something Scientology rails against.
While there have been flashes of perfectionist Cruise’s temper – he exploded in rage during Covid when crew members stood too close together – his public persona has never been more positive.
The associate said: ‘Tom went through this phase when people thought, quite frankly, that he was a bit weird. But when it came out that he shouted on set during Covid, people, particularly the executives back in Hollywood, were 100 per cent on his side.
‘He runs his movies like a general. It’s all on him. Hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars depend on him. The view was very much, yes, it was understandable for him to lose his temper if people were ignoring Covid rules and risking the entire production.’
The reviews for Top Gun: Maverick have been the best of Cruise’s career and he reportedly received a ‘back end’ deal which included a cut of the profits which could be worth as much as $100million.
‘Tom’s image has never been better. The UK has been good for him. He’s smiling all the time, he’s taking selfies, people love that he’s accessible,’ the associate added.
Cruise may return to Wimbledon today for the men’s final. Whatever the outcome of that game, one thing is certain: when it comes to Tom Cruise and Britain, it’s a love match.