A man named Jack has got her Jumpin'and the world
may never be the same! I'
Cruise and Paul Newman (left) as pool hus-
tIers in The Color of Money.
trade. I want my characters to be honest."
Two disappointments on his list of credits (Lo-
sin' It, Legend) helped clarify his priorities.
"Coming in, I was very naive about choosing
scripts," he admits. "I was of the opinion that
everyone wanted to make as great a movie as I
wanted to make. It's easy to get conned into
things; people talk big sometimes. No one really
wants to go out and make a bad movie, but you
have to be careful in choosing the elements you
work with. I decided [after Losin'tt] I only wanted
to work with the best people. I want to do it my
way, grow and learn, 'cause that's the most im-
Cruise got his wish. The Co/or ofMoney gave
him the chance to work with two of the heaviest
of heavy hitters-Scorsese and Paul Newman.
Did that scare him?
"I'd be a liar if I said I felt totally confident and
relaxed," Cruise laughs. "But the screenplay by
Richard Price was sowell-written, and we had
two weeks' rehearsal period; I really got to know
them well. Newman could have easily made me
very nervous, but he didn't. He really took the
time to make everyone feel comfortable-he's
very supportive, generous with his time as an
actor and a person. We became good friends."
Inevitably, the two indulged in Newman's pas-
sion for race car driving. "It was a prerequisite,"
Cruise quips. "I said, 'Listen, if I'm gonna do this
film, you got to get me into racing.' "
In Money, Newman recreates his 1961
Oscar-nominated performance as Fast Eddie
Felsen in The Hustler, who returns to pool 25
years later with a new protege, Vincent
Lauria. As homework for his character, Cruise
had to take a crash course in the art of pool
worked day and night for months," he
says. 'For one shot, Marty (Scorsese)
told me, 'Okay, now, the camera's just
going to follow you around the table, and
you got to clear off the whole table. You
think you can do that, kid?' I go, 'yeah,' and I
went home, and I was just sweating, thinking,
'shit.' So I really had to learn how to play. But
for me, that's exciting. The more I learned
about playing pool, the more confident I be-
cdme. I love pool now," he grins.
Cruise is similarly enthusiastic about exploring
the pool-hustling subculture. "It's a whole differ-
ent world," heexplains. "The players'language,
their obsession with pool, their movement. And
the morals-it's a whole different set of rules.
"These guys we met doing research, these
hustlers, they hustle each other. These two
guys, they've known each other for 20 years,
they'll be saying, 'Yeah, man, my pool, for the
last six months, I can't sink a nine ball for any-
thing ' Other guy says, 'Yeah, I know, my wrist,
did you hear about my wrist? I sprained it, and I
haven't picked up a pool cue since then. I tried,
and the pain in my arm (Cruise is, by now, totally
into the characters, complete with voices and
mannerisms) ... so, if we play, it's only fair you
spot me the eight ball, maybe even the break.
You see my wrist? I mean, /ook at my wrist!'
"It's not the money for these guys; it's the
hustle. One day they're up $100,000. The next
day they'll go to the track and blow it all. And if a
blind man has pencils over there, you take his
pencils What do you give him a quarter for? He
shouldn't be out on the street, selling those pen-
cils. Theyjustify it, the morality."
In Cruise's quest for the best and brightest to
work with, Moneyhas turned out to be an admit-
tedly hard act to follow. "Scorsese has such a
command of film," he declares, "in terms of
understanding, insight into the characters, how
he uses the camera technically. The camera al-
ways has a natural movement.
"Working with him, he's very honest with you,
and you just trust him because he knows exactly
what he's doing. He doesn't bullshit you, pre
tend to know something he doesn't. In dealing
with actors, he brings you into the piece; he
doesn't say, 'Hey, I'm the director, and you're
going to do what I tell you to do.' He lets you go,
focuses in on what's working, lets you do your
own work, encourages you to take chances. You
do get spoiled, working with him and Newman."
So what is Cruise doing for an encore? He is
currently reading scripts for p/ays, both new pro-
ductions and revivals. Does this mean he wants
to return to his theatrical roots, explore a medi-
um he hasn't worked in often?
"I can't find a film I like," he says. "It's as
simple as that." *
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