Where Tom Cruise sees plain old Tom Cruise, the rest of us see... TOM CRUISE. And the Tom Cruise we know has had a bruising year, beginning with his decision in February to serve Nicole Kidman, his wife of 10 years, with divorce papers, for reasons he's never discussed. But tabloid journalism abhors a vacuum, and subsequent disclosures have only inspired innuendo and speculation to fill it. Kidman's miscarriage. His romance with costar Penélope Cruz. An allegation of a liaison with a gay porn actor. By now, much of this has been settled: Cruise and Kidman have divvied up their reported $350 million in assets and agreed on joint custody of their two adopted children, Isabella, 8, and Connor, 6, while the sex allegation was discredited and withdrawn. What remains to be seen -- and what ''Vanilla Sky'' may provide an indication of -- is if any of this has affected the appeal of the world's biggest movie star.
Asked if he's worried that audiences might hold his personal life against him, Cruise's voice grows gravely quiet, as the frustration of being Tom Cruise becomes explicitly apparent. ''If I had to give myself a review on all of this, I feel like I handled it in a way I can be proud of,'' says the actor, sitting deep in the couch. ''I don't know what people think. People like to gossip, but as far as I'm concerned, my personal life is not open to discussion. And our lives -- Nic's and mine -- it's between us. Whatever the press has written or speculated, they'll never know, because it's none of their business, and Nic and I will never talk about it. So if someone is going to judge me based on something they've read, or whatever they perceive of me, honestly? F--- them. You know? F--- them.''
All right, then. Let's talk about the movie.