Tom Cruise's 'M:I7' rant is a flashpoint in COVID debate as pandemic-weary world tries to go back to work
Tom Cruise's vocal eruption on the set of "Mission: Impossible 7" over a crew COVID-19 breach has served as a controversial, but bracingly effective wake-up call in a world dealing with pandemic fatigue amid a deadly second wave.
"Tom Cruise is correct here FYI. Sorry/Not sorry," tweeted Josh Gad as the leaked audio became a viral talking point Wednesday.
Cruise's expletive-laden outburst, recorded and leaked from the U.K. set of the multi-million dollar action film reportedly over two crew members standing too close together, has been criticized as heavy-handed the day after it was published Tuesday by Britain's The Sun tabloid newspaper.
"If I see you do it again, you’re (expletive) gone. And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it – and you too and you too," Cruise, the "Mission: Impossible" hands-on producer and star, is heard shouting at crew on the audio.
But the criticism has been countered by strong support for the message. Cruise, who has been photographed masked in public throughout the "M:I7" filming tour of Europe, has been instrumental in keeping the production afloat amid the pandemic – even as "M:I7" has had to shut down production twice due to COVID-19.
"We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us," Cruise says in the audio. "Because they believe in us and what we’re doing. I’m on the phone with every (expletive) studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you (expletive)."
Tom Cruise erupts: At 'M:I7' crew for breaking COVID-19 protocol in leaked expletive-filled audio
Cruise and Paramount Studios have not commented on the audio. The resulting fall-out was a discussion point on "The View" Wednesday, with Whoopi Goldberg standing by Cruise.
"Some people don't understand why he would get so angry. I get it. That's his movie," said Goldberg. "And if he's looking over and he can see you not doing what you're supposed to be doing, it's kind of like a little bit of a middle finger."
Goldberg added, "When you see something on a set that is sort of dangerous as people not taking this seriously you do go off, you do get crazy. You think people would know better."
"When They See Us" director Ava DuVernay was one of the many prominent voices to support Cruise on Twitter.
"If you’ve shot during the pandemic, you know the Herculean effort it is to keep a project going within Covid protocols," wrote DuVernay. "Then some dude doesn’t wanna wear his shield? Nah. Been there. Felt the rage."
But DuVernay also suggested that Cruise gets a pass for the rant as a white male. "If I did that on set, I’d be directing icing videos for the local bakery," she wrote.
George Clooney told Howard Stern's SiriusXM show Wednesday that Cruise "didn't overreact, because it is a problem," according to interview excepts on E! News.
"I have a friend who's an (assistant director) on another TV show who just had the almost exact same thing happen with not quite as far out (of) a response," Clooney said.
The director and star of Netflix's "The Midnight Sky" did say he would have handled the incident differently.
"I wouldn't have done it that big. I wouldn't have pulled people out," Clooney said. "You're in a position of power and it's tricky, right? You do have a responsibility for everybody else and he's absolutely right about that. And if the production goes down, a lot of people lose their jobs. People have to understand that and have to be responsible. It's just not my style to take everybody to task that way."
The incident has had real-world impact as well beyond the industry. In a piece on Slate.com, titled, "I Begrudgingly Admit Tom Cruise Is Right," writer Shannon Palus called the blowup "unsettling, most obviously because it’s a rich, powerful man yelling curse words at people who work for him."
But Palus noted that Cruise was correct in making clear that the film production, and the entire industry, is reliant on people following clear safety protocols. Further, Cruise's words validated the anger many people feel in their daily lives over others flaunting safety precautions, like mask-wearing, which put communities in peril and worsen the pandemic. "It helps to hear rage on full display, instead of neatly tucked away, where so many of us are keeping it," Palus wrote.
Others in agreement include author Amy Vanderpool, who tweeted the Cruise audio calling it "pretty fantastic."
"If the president had taken this pandemic half as seriously as (Cruise), many more people would still be alive," she wrote.
Podcaster Eric Vespe tweeted, "Tom Cruise is right and the angry/disappointed dad energy in that leaked audio is on point."
Others, like Twitter user @OliveJRowe, disagreed with the praise, writing, "All these people defending Tom Cruise have clearly never worked in a toxic environment under a screaming, egotistical man."