Tom Cruise doesn’t do comedy very often, but when he does, the results are usually stellar. It’s been a long time since he appeared in anything designed specifically with the intention of making people laugh, but after burying himself under prosthetics for a scene-stealing and hilarious performance in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder, he wound up landing a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2009. Unfortunately, however, there hasn’t really been anything since then.
Meanwhile, 21st Century Hollywood comedy had largely been defined by Judd Apatow and his troupe of regular collaborators ever since the critical and commercial success of movies like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Anchorman set the template that the genre would follow for a decade, so the idea of Apatow and Seth Rogen setting up a meeting with Cruise to pitch him a new project in 2006 made a great deal of sense.
However, Rogen revealed in a recent interview that when he and Apatow went to meet with the A-list action megastar to discuss a potential team-up, the conversation eventually and inevitably led to Cruise trying to sell the duo on the merits of Scientology.
“A few hours into the meeting, the Scientology stuff comes up. He said, ‘I think the pharmaceutical industry is making me look bad. You should see what they do to my friend Louis Farrakhan’. I’ll never forget the wording he used. ‘It’s like with Scientology. If you let me just tell you what it was really about, just give me like 20 minutes to, like, really just tell you what it was about’. You would say no f*cking way. No f*cking way.'”
At the time the meeting took place, Seth Rogen would have been an impressionable 24 year-old that had just gotten his foot in the Hollywood door, while Cruise was and still is one of the most powerful figures in the industry and the highest profile Scientologist on the planet, so you can understand why the fast-rising comedic talent would have felt a little bit uncomfortable when all he really wanted to do was speak to the Mission: Impossible star about the possibility of making a film together.