Story by: Jack Foley
TOM Cruise spent ver two hours signing thousands of autographs
for his fans at the London premiere of his latest movie, The Last
Samurai, on Tuesday, January 6, 2004.
The popular star had promised to sign autographs for every fan
at the glittering event, and did not disappoint them as he made
sure that most, if not all, of the 5,000 who bothered to turn
out to see him didn't go home disappointed.
The highly-rated star arrived outside the première venue
at 5.55pm and was still working the crowd two hours later, doing
his usual trick of signing autographs, and speaking on fans' mobiles,
as well as posing for photographs.
He was accompanied by long-term girlfriend, Penelope Cruz, who
was dressed in a red Valentino dress - although she entered the
cinema after 15 minutes outside.
Cruise has long been renowned (and admired) for the way he always
makes time for his fans at such occasions, having spent an hour
and a half talking to fans and chatting on their mobile phones
when he was last in town, for the premiere of Minority
He also spent two and a half hours at the US premiere of The
Last Samurai, missing the start of the movie so that he could
be with them.
And speaking at the press junket in Berlin, on Monday this week,
where most of the European media events took place, he announced
that, 'hey, if anyone shows up and wants my autograph, they can
That promise delighted many of his legion of followers, who turned
out in force to catch a glimpse of their hero.
In the film, which is tipped for Oscar success, Cruise plays
a US Civil War veteran hired to train a Japanese army against
the ancient Samurai warriors, who eventually comes to admire their
way of life, and honour, and sides with them against those he
The film opened to widespread acclaim in the US before Christmas
and is expected to do the same here.
And filming the epic, directed by Edward Zwick, wasn't without
its own challenges.
Cruise, who is similarly renowned for doing as many of his own
stunts as possible, had to train for eight months for the role,
so that he could take part in them.
But one scene, in particular, with Japanese co-star, Hiroyuki
Sanada, almost ended in tragedy, as the two actors were heading
towards each other on mechanical horses.
The horses failed to stop before they hit each other, as they
should have done, and Sanada's sword ended up an inch away from
slicing into Cruise's neck.
Cruise, though, played down such incidents and said he immensely
enjoyed the experience of learning about the ancient culture,
and the fighting techniques needed for the movie's many battle
He learned Kendo, swordsmanship, Japanese martial arts and weapons
handling, plus the Japanese language, and told journalists that,
'as far as training goes, you name it, I've done it'.
And speaking ahead of the UK premiere, in Leicester Square, Cruise
said he also loved coming to London and meeting his UK fans.
Following The Last Samurai, Cruise will next be seen in the next
film from Michael Mann, as well as Mission Impossible 3, directed
by Narc's Joe Carnahan.