Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman: Stars of Oblivion
By: Lynn Barker
Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman are some of the most recognizable people on the planet. Sure Tom has been in the tabloids but he is most recognizable worldwide for his film roles, especially as that action hero from the Mission Impossible movies. Morgan has played the President of the U.S. and well… God! He’s in everything! Both actors walk into a room and just own it.
For the first time, the strong, talented duo is together in the sci-fi actioner Oblivion.
Tom plays a repair tech and one of the last humans on earth after a huge war with aliens. Morgan is the leader of a hidden group of human rebels still trying to survive and fight back. Kidzworld went to the L.A. press day and gathered some deets on the film and the actors’ personal takes on their roles.
How did Tom decide to do the film?
- Tom: I read the story and I’d seen the commercials that (director) Joe (Kosinski) had directed prior, so I called him up. We met, he showed me pieces of (his movie) Tron Legacy and I was amazed by it. I thought, ‘Wow. This guy’s a big filmmaker, and he’s very talented.’ Joe is someone who creates other worlds, and his vision for Oblivion is what interested me. I’ve never seen anything like it: the way that he wanted to direct it and all the elements that were involved. Although I haven’t made a sci-fi film since Minority Report, I love the genre and I knew that Joe works well in it.
Kidzworld: Morgan, when you first read the script, what aspect of your character appealed to you most and why?
- Morgan: When I first read it, they talk about the mysteriousness of this group. In the on-set you don’t see them. They are there, but you don’t see them. Then when they are finally revealed, they are the good guys. And I’m their leader. (Laughs)
Kidzworld: You don’t usually play an action hero but in this film you actually got a chance to play with the machine guns. What was that experience like? Was that your decision?
- Morgan: No, I don’t make decisions like that. (He laughs.) That was written in that he gets up there and manages the machine gun. How these things work out is strictly the writer’s thing, it’s not the director and not the actor. It was fun. There were dual 50 calibers on that tractor and I had never dealt with a 50-caliber machine gun before.
Kidzworld: Was it all the action that sold you on the movie or the story or….?
- Morgan: Tom Cruise. It’s a Tom Cruise movie. If I was going to be a truck driver hauling supplies I would have taken the job. I’m one of his huge fans. I have been for I don’t know how many years. I know at this point, I’m not going to be offered a minor role. I was excited by the script. The movie is so much more than what you can read on the page. But it’s a big draw. It’s a big science fiction film with Tom Cruise. It’s hard to go wrong.
Tom Cruise talked about working with Morgan Freeman.
- Tom: I met Morgan in 1990 when both of us were nominated for Oscars®. I was nominated for Born on the Fourth of July and he was for Driving Miss Daisy. I so admired him, and I remember that night at the Oscars® how I was looking forward to saying hello. We both said we should work together sometime. I’m sad it took so many years before this occurred, but I’m happy to have had the opportunity to work with him. He’s a wonderful man, and he’s an extraordinary actor.
Kidzworld: Morgan, why has it taken so long in your career for you to make a movie with Tom?
- Morgan: When we say we want to work together and we’re looking for something to do, that’s not an active thing. If that was the case I would have been in Mission Impossible 1, 2 or 3. But when the right project comes along it’s sort of a domino effect; everything falls into place. I think this was the perfect genre for me to be involved in with Tom in so I no longer resent having not done anything with him before! (Laughs)
Kidzworld: Tom tells the story about meeting you for the first time at the 1990s Oscars when you were both nominated. What were your first impressions of a young Tom back then?
- Morgan: The first time I saw him was in Risky Business. He was awesome. When his parents walked out of the house and he slid into frame in his Jockeys and did that whole thing, I thought “This kid is awesome!” I don’t know if there is anything he has done which I haven’t appreciated since then. He’s just born to do this. Born to do it.
Kidzworld: Morgan, this sci-fi film said something positive about humanity, which we don’t really see much in movies. Without giving too much away can you talk about that?
- Morgan: If I talk about it, I’ll give something away. I think one of the themes that stands out in this film is the love story. It’s not like one we’ve seen before. Then there’s the awesome technology. That bubble ship can be remotely controlled. Remember the point when they said “emergency return to base” and it just left? (He makes a pop sound.) Wow! Yeah. I agree with you that this is one is unlike many we’ve seen. It’s very intelligent and extremely creative. Joseph (Kosinski) designed these doggone toys. Awesome! Those drones are things you can’t believe but there they are and they are believable.
Kidzworld: I have a question about your character’s distinctive costume. Did you have any impact on how your character was dressed? How much did it affect your performance?
- Morgan: The costume is always an asset. You have a lot to say, if you’re wearing suits or ties as to how the suit is going to be cut or whether you’re not going to be wearing a hat, but when you’re wearing a special costume… (it’s different). Of course, a costume is probably the second ingredient in (forming the) character, the script being first. I always find that the costume does a lot to cement your character, to put it firmly in mind. This costume I remember going for the fitting. It took maybe half hour to get into it, but then I looked at it and I walked all over the office showing it off and it was, shall we say, instructive.
Kidzworld: You look very good in a cape.
- Morgan: (big smile) Thank you very much. Maybe I should just buy myself one and wear it!
Tom talked about piloting the cool bubbleship and working with backgrounds of clouds actually projected so actors could see them on set (not the usual green screen).
- Tom: Not acting with green screen does help as an actor. It’s interactive, so it was without a doubt the most beautiful and peaceful set I’ve ever shot on. This natural lighting became our lighting. With the clouds projected all around us, it gave the set a very ethereal, yet organic, feeling.
- On the bubbleship, Joe showed me the drawings and the concept art, and I just thought, ‘this is so cool.’ I’m a pilot, and I love the way he designed it. (The full-sized model) is as beautiful as it is on screen. Every piece of it was so smooth and elegant, and they designed it to fit my body for all the action. He laughs, I want someone to build it so we can fly it for real.
Tom had some trouble with a big fight scene he had in the desert on a very hot day.
- Tom: I’ve never felt such extreme heat in my life. Your body would heat up like that, and then you have to bring your body temperature down. Of course the whole time, I was thinking, ‘Ten hours to get this, and how many minutes to cool the body down?’
What about riding a cool, futuristic motorcycle?
- Tom: It’s a tricky design because when I was riding there were moments that I had to carry Olga (on the back). The guys that designed this did a sensational job with not just the look of it, but changing the balance of the bike. Since I was doing jumps and running through Iceland, it had to be safe enough for me to travel at very high speeds without a helmet. I know it was tricky for them to figure out the balance of that bike, and I had a blast riding it.
Tom celebrated a birthday on the set in Iceland and the filmmakers gave him one of the cool bikes as a gift.
Kidzworld: Morgan, the future of Earth is this movie looks ruined and dismal. How would you envision the future ideally?
- Morgan: We would all live in trees. We would all hunt for our food. We would walk wherever we went. The planet would be rejuvenated. We wouldn’t be killing off all the animals just to feed us. I would like to change it like that.
Kidzworld: I agree! You have been in so many movies, what is that you look for in scripts these days? What excites you as an actor?
- Morgan: It’s different things. I can’t say. You might write something that is way beyond something you’ve ever see me do. (If you sent me the script and) thought of me to do it, I would be flattered to be asked to do something other than be wise.
Kidzworld: This movie gives you that chance. After all this time, is fame and people shouting your name on the red carpet still exciting for you?
- Morgan: One of my movie heroes, Humphrey Bogart (once said) ‘I don’t owe the public anything but a good performance’ and I tried to take that to heart but not quite. I don’t do autographs; they are a waste of time. But photographs stay. Touching someone’s hand or hugging a beautiful lady. All of that works out very well (big grin). I think I owe the public a little bit more than just a good performance. I owe them just a little bit of my time…. if I’m cornered.