A/V Room









The Last Samurai - UK premiere

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 Report.

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 have it'.

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 has trained.

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 scenes.

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.

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