Tom Cruise: Back in the Cockpit in “American Made”

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise has reunited with his Edge of Tomorrow director, Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) for Universal Pictures’ American Made, based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of Barry Seal, a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. history.

Tom Cruise plays the real-life Barry Seal.

Cruise admits that the screenplay by Gary Spinelli (Stash House) was a huge draw and that he gravitated toward this wild story because he’d never met a character like this one. “Mark Twain’s one of my favorite writers,” says Cruise, “and I think he informed the tone of Gary’s writing. Barry Seal lived in a very unique time that we’ll never have again in aviation, or in history. He had this incredibly adventurous life, and one that is just beyond belief. He was a character walking through history. It was just too outrageous to believe, and in this day and age, it’s something that will never happen again.”

Cruise performed all his own stunt flying in “American Made.”

Not only was Cruise fascinated by Seal’s pioneering spirit, but also how dichotomous this man was. “Barry was a great pilot, and a man who loved his family,” he states. “Still, he’s very much an antihero who wanted an adventurous life. I don’t condone the things he did, but you can’t help but see that he had this wish fulfillment. He was someone who lived beyond the rules in a way that was unique to that time period in aviation. Today, everything’s very controlled and corporate, and air spaces are contained. The things that he and his other pilots were able to do were outrageous.”

American Made (2017)
Tom Cruise in “American Made.”

For Cruise, this longtime labor of love wouldn’t have been possible without the support of occasional-roommates Spinelli and Liman. Of his director, he reflects: “Doug brings a unique humanity to his films. He comes up with ideas as we’re working, and the friendship that we have allows us to trust one another—where we’re willing to try anything. We push each other, and he’s someone who wants to make great films and to entertain an audience.

“I also don’t make a movie just to make a movie,” Cruise, who does all of his own flying in the movie, continues. “What interests me is the passion of cinema and storytelling, that’s when it gets very exciting. It’s not just a job; I love this too much and want to push myself and surround myself with people who have that same sensibility and sense of exploration to make movies.”

Of his principal costars, Cruise raves: “Sarah (Wright Olsen) is incredible as Barry’s wife; she’s just extraordinary. And Domhnall (Gleeson) plays such an original character—the kind we see in all of Doug’s films—ones that have this authenticity on screen. With Bourne and Mr. and Mrs. Smith to Swingers, he’s so invested in the world that he creates and in these characters they have a unique humanity to them.”

American Made Rated R, 115 minutes opens in U.S. theaters on September 29th.