- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"In order to do what you do, you have to feel you can, but Tom, Tom...."
Cruise went on getting hotter until Towne went up to him and almost whispered, "Tom, the speech is supposed to make you mad." Cruise stared at Towne, thunderstruck, then he burst into laughter. The scene stayed in. The point stayed tellingly unresolved. It's a tough one, a human divide. Racers versus reasonable people.
It is unkind to press drivers as to whether or not they deny the risks of their calling. They do. They have to. Racing's imperatives are such that to do it well, you have to abandon, for a time, all reason. The moment of departure may be marked by a scream.
Cruise, as both racer and artist, would seem to be on an interesting fence, but, as Towne discovered, he's not. "I don't feel it to be true that drivers practice risk denial," Cruise says. "They're out with good men, in quality machines. Sure there is risk. But look at the percentages. In most deaths their equipment just wasn't there."
Spoken like a true driver.
Cruise's ability behind the wheel unquestionably strengthens the film. "Audiences are sophisticated," says Thunder's still photographer, Steve Vaughan. "They know when it gets dangerous, you cut to a long shot of a stuntman. With Tom, we don't."
"We can hold the cameras on him even with the pack coming down on his butt," says director Scott. "He's fearless. He's a damn lunatic."
"The key has been keeping Tom alive through the picture," says Bruckheimer. At least when he was driving race cars, the crew knew the risks their star was taking. But it was not until shooting was almost complete when they learned that their meal ticket was skydiving on many of his days off.
Scott directed while wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the word TOPCAR. Days of Thunder's similarity to Top Gun will surely be discussed all summer, and the longer that goes on, the less patience Cruise will have with it. "The world of flying and the world of NASCAR racing are different," he says. "Cole and Maverick are different people going through things differently."
"Cole has been a person who puts things off on others," Cruise says. "He goes, 'I don't have a problem. What's your problem? What's your problem?' " Cruise advances on you as he becomes Cole, jabbing at your sternum, making you think he's snapped. Then he pulls back. "He has this fear of asking, fear of needing help. Yet he comes to trust his crew chief enough to admit he really doesn't know much about the cars he drives. The bond with the crew chief enables Cole to be more himself. That's the character's progression."