Cannes, France (AP) – The Tom Cruise frenzy descended on Wednesday in Cannes, with the actor walking the red carpet at the film festival, receiving a surprise Palme d’Or and flying a squadron of French fighters over European Saw it happen “Top Gun: Maverick” premiere.
Cannes pulled out all the stops to bring in the 59-year-old star, paying tribute to Cruise, with not only a rare onstage interview and a red-carpet premiere featuring a flyby of jets behind colored smoke, but an unexpected presentation. Along with an honorary Palme d’Or. Festival president Pierre Lescure announced the prizes – about 15 honorary Palms given earlier – on stage just before the start of the screenings. Cruise took home the top Cannes award, while the audience gave the actor a standing ovation.
Cruise came up with a candid discussion in the Croisette, where “Tom!” Shouting crowds gathered around the Palais des Festivals. To try to catch a glimpse of the 59-year-old star. “Great Balls of Fire” was blazing on the carpet.
Cruz had not been to the festival for three decades. But with plenty of media disruption challenging the theatrical experience, Cannes and Cruise ditched the vibe of longtime friends. “He is dedicated to cinema,” declared artistic director Thierry Fremoux. Cruz’s enthusiastic reception was in some ways like the welcome of an action hero, here to save the day.
“I make movies for the big screen,” Cruz said in an interview onstage at the Debut Theater in Cannes.
The European premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick,” directed by Joseph Kosinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, brought to the fore what’s likely to be one of the Cannes Film Festival’s most star-studded red carpets, which opened Tuesday and runs through May 28. Attendees included Viola Davis, Dakota Fanning, Omar C and Eva Longoria — along with “Top Gun: Maverick” stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glenn Powell.
When Cruise arrived by helicopter at the film’s San Diego premiere on an aircraft carrier, he arrived more traditionally at the Cannes premiere, with the film’s cast and filmmakers in a convoy of cars. Cruz paused for several minutes to sign autographs and take pictures with fans lined up across the street from the red carpet.
Earlier, the festival honored Cruise with a tribute that included a career-extending video montage, after which Cruise spoke about his dedication to filmmaking in an interview, avoiding any personal questions. . Instead, he responded with a provocation from interviewer Didier Alouk why, Monsieur Cruz, do you take such risks doing your stunts?
“Nobody asked Gene Kelly ‘Why do you dance? Cruz replied.
The Cannes stopover for “Top Gun: Maverick” is part of a worldwide tour for the film ahead of its May 27 launch in theaters. It has already touched down at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and premiered in San Diego. Paramount Pictures delayed its release by two years during the pandemic, a move that appears to be paying off with glowing reviews and box-office expectations that “Top Gun: Maverick” is easily Cruise’s biggest hit to date. Will mark the big opening weekend.
When asked if he was ever tempted to turn the film over to a streaming service, Cruise responded emphatic.
“No, that’s never going to happen,” Cruz replied with a loud applause. “That was never going to happen.”
Cruise spent much of the conversation explaining his immense dedication to the craft of filmmaking, how from an early age he dug into every element of filmmaking and analyzed how particular modes of acting work best on the big screen. He returned to it frequently as a creative experience, shooting the 1981 film “Taps” with George C. Scott.
“Please,” Cruz said as he thought at the time, “if I can do this for the rest of my life, I’ll never take it lightly.”