A Galaxy of Stars


I am not in this shot - my contribution to Eyes Wide Shut was limited to a lot of pre-production test shoots and a week in the Lanesborough Hotel, standing in focus for Jason Wrenn while he took a break. L-R: Cruise, Stanley, Toby Plaskett (grip), Larry Smith (DOP).

Tom Cruise

None of the footage I worked on made it to the final cut - I was working on reshoots, and those reshoots were reshot again. When I was there we were working with Jennifer Jason-Leigh, but she was in turn replaced by Marie Richardson (I think). In any event, Stanley had hired out almost all of the second floor of the Lanesborough Hotel, which was useful for me because Margaret, the production co-ordinator, knew that I lived in Wiltshire and suggested I take: 'The lampshade room'. I asked her what 'the lampshade room' meant, and she said: 'you'll see'.

It was full of lampshades. Stanley likes to have several of lots of things so they can be brought in and presented before he opts for the one he likes, so props and art department always had alternatives of anything not easily movable.

Interestingly, Stanley likes to shoot with practicals as much as possible, 'practicals' being the term for bedside lamps, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, they do not give off enough light for the slow film of the time - and the practicals have to be augmented by bigger lamps. However, Stanley being Stanley, he wondered if he could put huge 5000 Watt bulbs in a light fitting and use those as they would very much give off enough light. (a typical bulb of the era would have been 60 Watt)

5K bulbs do give off a lot of light so it was a soundish idea, but they give off a lot of heat, too, so he asked a technician to put 5K bulbs in a bedside lamp and then time them to see how long before they either melted or burst into flames - the reasoning behind it being that if a lamp lasted three minutes, then you could easily run a two minute take.

The following morning after dreaming of lampshades 'coming to get me' I went to work after breakfast, and we always started late as Stanley likes to watch rushes in his house North of London. I'd met Tom Cruise the day before, and he'd said 'Hello' and we'd had a brief chat about film cameras. The crew, incidentally, was minuscule - Stanley didn't like tons of people around the set, so cut it to a minimum. I counted only 49. We didn't even have stand-ins. It was usually one of us, and for final lighting, Cruise himself.

Anyhoo, I was walking behind Cruise up the corridor of the Lanesborough - not close, about 25' - and he hadn't seen me, and ahead of him was Annie, the continuity supervisor. Continuity have a huge task, and were then very paper orientated - they will be typically standing on set while shooting, a vast file open in one arm which contains a billion bits of paper, Polaroids - script pages, notes - everything. So Annie, who is 15' ahead of Cruise, drops her script - which is kind of a disaster, as all those notes have to be ordered so she can find them quickly and easily.

Without hesitation, Cruise sprinted up the corridor to kneel down and give her a hand picking them up. He didn't pause for a heartbeat: there was someone who needed assistance and, well, he was there.

After that, whenever I read any of the bollocks written about Cruise in the papers, I always, always give him the benefit of the doubt. I was there when, entirely unobserved and without pausing for thought, he helped out a crew mate in trouble.

It wasn't fake, it wasn't for show, it was real. Character is what you do when no-one is watching.

Recalled July 1st, 2020.

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