- Title: UK: Tom Cruise is joined by the cast of 'Valkyrie' for the film's London premiere
- Date: 23rd January 2009
- Summary: SHOT OF FANS
- Embargoed: 7th February 2009 12:00
- Reuters ID: LVA9TPL13HLXQGET7GLH13RIFAX1
- Story Text: Tom Cruise talks about his WWII thriller, 'Valkyrie', at the film's UK Premiere in London.
Tom Cruise was greeted by hundreds of fans at the London Premiere of his latest outing, 'Valkyrie' in Leicester Square on Wednesday (January 21).
Directed by Bryan Singer of 'The Usual Suspects' and 'X-Men' fame, the WWII thriller is based on the true story of the failed attempt by high-ranking German soldiers to kill Adolf Hitler. Cruise plays Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, the would-be assassin who planted a briefcase bomb under a table at Hitler's military headquarters.
Hitler miraculously survived the blast and Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were executed, but Stauffenberg's legacy helped ease the burden of guilt about World War Two and the Holocaust endured by Germans.
The making of the movie sparked controversy in Germany, with an American production telling the story of Stauffenberg, who is a symbol of the German resistance.
Many of the locations in the film were authentic, including the Bendlerblock building and courtyard where Stauffenberg was shot dead.
As well as concerns that Hollywood would mishandle the subject, many also balked at the prospect of Cruise playing Stauffenberg because of strong objections to the actor's ties to Scientology. Germany does not officially recognise Scientology as a religion and many regard it as a cult, Cruise, who at an earlier press conference for the film said he'd hated Hitler growing up and had wanted to kill him, said it's not the first time he has been criticised for playing a role before the film is even released.
"Yeah it always is, you know. I've been through a lot of these things on movies where people are writing and saying: 'Why did you make that movie?' Even-- I remember, Dustin and I when we were making 'Rainman', you know, because we worked on that film for two years and I remember on 'Interview With a Vampire' I kind of went through different things like that.
So when you're making movies like this-- I've been different experiences like this," he told Reuters Television.
Despite the negative media hanging over the production and publicity of the film, the tide of opinion in Germany largely turned after initial screenings. While some criticism remained, the film mostly opened to high praise.
"We were living in two different worlds," said Cruise.
"One was us making the movie and kind of walking through Germany on a day to day basis where people were very excited about it - and, of course, they want and hope that the film is going to work. So it was wonderful to be able to finally screen it and let people see the film and see what it was that we were doing - which was pretty much everything we said we were doing right from the beginning."
Cruise's 'Valkyrie' co-stars defended the Hollywood star and said the film had proved itself with audiences and critics.
"The first German audience that saw it gave Tom Cruise a standing ovation that went on and on and on and on. And German audiences are apparently not famous for that, you know. So it was a big moment for him, obviously for all of us, and it was great-- it was sweet that we took it back to Berlin, which is where we shot it and it's one their big stories, so it was important to us that they should like it and they not only like it, they received it kind of rapturously. It was marvellous," explained Bill Nighy, who plays conspirator General Friedrich Olbricht.
Tom Wilkinson, whose character General Friedrich Fromm reluctantly turns a blind eye to the assassination plot in 'Valkyrie,' agreed he was happy to see the film judged on it's own merits as opposed to the controversy surrounding it.
"I'm glad about that. People have got lot's of ideas about Tom Cruise. I think it's mainly about Tom - and I think it should be to his energy and commitment that a good film has come out of it," he said.
The film has a largely British supporting cast which, in addition to Nighy and Wilkinson, includes Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp and Eddie Izzard.
Also featured are German actors Christian Berkel of 'Black Book' and Thomas Kretschmann of 'Wanted' and 'King Kong.' 'Valkyrie' opened in the United States on Christmas day last year, faring better than sceptics had predicted. The film reached number 4 at the North American box office on it's opening Christmas holiday weekend.
It opens in cinemas across the UK on January 23.
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