Tom Cruise And Brad Pitt's 30-Year-Old Feud – Fact Or Fiction?
In the dynamic landscape of 1980s Hollywood, Tom Cruise stood as the epitome of male stardom. However, as the '90s dawned and Interview with the Vampire hit screens in 1994, the spotlight seemed to shift to Cruise's co-star, Brad Pitt. Their collaboration in Neil Jordan's adaptation of Anne Rice's Gothic horror novel marked the first and last time these two titans shared the screen. Persistent rumors have circulated about a purported feud, fueled by Cruise's higher paycheck and alleged insistence on maintaining a more "physically dominant" on-screen presence than Pitt.
Pitt, in turn, openly acknowledged feeling irked by Cruise during the shoot, describing their personalities as clashing like 'North and South.' Now, decades later, the question lingers: Is the 30-year-old feud between Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt still aflame?
#1. Star Treatment
Tom Cruise reigned supreme throughout the 1980s. Bursting onto the scene as a leading man in 1983 with "Risky Business," he soared to unparalleled heights with the 1986 blockbuster "Top Gun," propelling the New York-born actor into the stratosphere and solidifying his status as the preeminent star of his generation at just 24 years old. Subsequent years saw Cruise skillfully navigate between critically acclaimed, award-winning dramas such as "Rain Man" and "Born on the Fourth of July" and more audience-friendly hits like "Cocktail" and "Days of Thunder." The era marked not only the ascendancy of Cruise's career but also his adept ability to straddle the realms of both artistic acclaim and mainstream success.
In the following years, Tom Cruise showcased his versatility by seamlessly transitioning between critically acclaimed dramas like "Rain Man" and "Born on the Fourth of July" and crowd-pleasing hits such as "Cocktail" and "Days of Thunder." This period not only marked the zenith of Cruise's career but also highlighted his adeptness in straddling the realms of artistic acclaim and mainstream success.
However, when it came to "Interview with the Vampire," controversy arose from the outset, primarily centered around Cruise's casting. Author Anne Rice, who originally envisioned Rutger Hauer for the role, publicly criticized Cruise, stating he was "no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G Robinson is Rhett Butler." Despite Rice's reservations, producer David Geffen and Warner Bros. made it unequivocally clear through their deal that Cruise was the star of the show.
As Tom Cruise basked in early success, Brad Pitt was still striving for his breakthrough. Despite accumulating TV and film bit parts in the late '80s, Pitt struggled to find the spotlight until Geena Davis insisted on casting him as the bad boy JD in 1991's "Thelma & Louise." The film's success catapulted Pitt into the limelight, garnering attention for his handsome and charismatic presence.
Following a few commercial setbacks like "Johnny Suede" and "Kalifornia," Pitt earned acclaim for "A River Runs Through It" and "True Romance," building anticipation around him. This buzz secured him a significant role in the blockbuster adaptation of Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire." While initially offered to Daniel Day-Lewis, the pivotal role of undead antagonist Lestat ultimately went to Tom Cruise, leaving Pitt to portray Louis, the film's lead.
While Brad Pitt's Louis may be considered the primary character in "Interview with the Vampire" as the titular vampire being interviewed, Tom Cruise's name took precedence in the opening credits. Cruise's name was prominently featured above the title on the movie poster, where Pitt's face was notably absent.
Notably, Cruise reportedly earned $10 million for his performance, a significant portion of the film's overall budget, while Pitt received $3 million. Adding to the tension, Pitt, as per Neil Jordan, found Cruise's casting as Lestat "perplexing," having initially expected Daniel Day-Lewis for the role. Under these circumstances, Pitt is rumored to have harbored a growing resentment.
#2. “I started really resenting him”
Brad Pitt openly shared his discontent during the making of "Interview with the Vampire" on a London soundstage, describing it as a "largely unhappy experience." In a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly, he expressed, "I was miserable. Six months in the fing dark. Contact lenses, makeup, I’m playing the bh role…"
The situation became so dire that Pitt contemplated quitting and approached producer David Geffen, stating, "I said, ‘David, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do it. How much will it take to get me out?’ And he goes, very calmly, ‘40 million dollars.’”
Beyond the challenging filming schedule, Brad Pitt found dissatisfaction with the script, believing it shifted focus away from his character. Expressing his concerns, he said, “In the book, it is a guy going on this search of discovery. And in the meantime, he has this Lestat character that he’s entranced by and abhors… In the movie, they took the sensational aspects of Lestat and made that the pulse of the film, and those things are very enjoyable and very good, but for me, there was just nothing to do – you just sit and watch.”
The elevated emphasis on Lestat likely stemmed from Tom Cruise's influence, leading to a reported antipathy between the two actors. Pitt mentioned, “He bugged me,” citing a growing feud on the set. This animosity was attributed to an “underlying competition” and clashing personalities. Pitt described their differences in Premiere magazine in 1995, stating, “You gotta understand, Tom and I are… we walk in different directions. He’s North Pole. I’m South. He’s coming at you with a handshake, where I may bump into you, I may not, you know?”
Maintaining Tom Cruise's status as the film's lead proved challenging, given Brad Pitt's taller stature. Cruise wore lifts to create a more level height, a move Pitt found both sensible and questionable. Rumors circulated that Pitt walked in a ditch to appear shorter in certain scenes.
Despite reported tension, Pitt defended Cruise as a skilled actor who successfully portrayed his character's advancement. Pitt clarified their relationship "wasn’t nasty by any means, not at all." Cruise, usually reserved, expressed satisfaction with their collaboration.
"Interview with the Vampire" overcame a challenging production to become a box office hit, earning almost $224 million. Despite positive reviews and public praise from author Anne Rice, rumors of a feud between the leading men lingered.
Brad Pitt, according to his "Bullet Train" co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, maintains lists categorizing people into the 'good' and 's***' lists for potential collaborations. While Pitt has a history of working with certain individuals repeatedly, including directors David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino, as well as Ocean's co-stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Matt Damon, Tom Cruise is notably absent from this roster.
Despite being contemporaries and occasionally considered for similar roles, Pitt and Cruise have not engaged in repeat collaborations. A case in point is the 2008 film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a project initially earmarked for Cruise around a decade earlier, with Steven Spielberg attached to direct. Spielberg, once a friend and collaborator with Cruise on films like "Minority Report" and "War of the Worlds," is said to have severed ties due to Cruise's notorious erratic behavior during the latter film's release. In recent years, Cruise has narrowed down his list of collaborators.
#3. The Brad Pitt “s**t list”
The Cruise vs. Pitt debate resurfaced in 2009 with the release of "Inglourious Basterds," Brad Pitt's World War II film with Quentin Tarantino. This followed Tom Cruise's 2008 WWII drama, "Valkyrie." Rumors circulated that Pitt had criticized Cruise's film as "ridiculous," but Pitt's representatives swiftly denied the claim.
Further speculation about anti-Cruise sentiment arose in 2010 with the release of "Salt," a spy thriller initially conceived with Tom Cruise in the lead. Angelina Jolie ultimately took the role, leading to rumors that Pitt influenced the casting to spite Cruise. Director Phillip Noyce clarified that Cruise departed due to character similarities with Ethan Hunt from "Mission: Impossible," and producer Amy Pascal suggested casting Jolie.
#4. Enemies reunited (almost)
In 2009, the Cruise vs. Pitt debate resurfaced with the release of "Inglourious Basterds," Brad Pitt’s World War II film, following Tom Cruise's 2008 movie "Valkyrie." Rumors circulated that Pitt had criticized Cruise’s film as “ridiculous,” a claim later dismissed by Pitt's representatives.
The controversy continued in 2010 with the release of "Salt." Originally conceptualized for Tom Cruise, the role of CIA agent Evelyn Salt went to Angelina Jolie. Speculation arose that Pitt influenced Jolie's casting to spite Cruise due to their previous relationship. However, director Phillip Noyce clarified that Cruise left the film over character similarities with "Mission: Impossible’s" Ethan Hunt, and it was producer Amy Pascal’s decision to cast Jolie.
The enduring notion of a Cruise vs. Pitt rivalry sparked hopes of their on-screen reunion in the car racing film initially titled Go Like Hell, directed by Joseph Kosinski. Despite getting Cruise and Pitt together for a table reading, budget constraints led to the project's reworking into 2019's Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale.
Another opportunity for collaboration arose with Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. While Tarantino considered Cruise for a role, he ultimately cast Brad Pitt, who went on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
In 2019, promoting Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Pitt light-heartedly compared his bravado to Cruise's, emphasizing their different approaches to daring feats. Almost three decades after Interview with the Vampire, Cruise and Pitt remain Hollywood stalwarts. Despite any perceived competition, the hope lingers for a future reunion of these megastars on the big screen.
Almost three decades after "Interview with the Vampire," Cruise and Pitt remain iconic figures in Hollywood. While they may always be perceived as competitors, there's hope for a future reunion on the big screen between these two megastars.
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