Maverick’ and Tom Cruise land at the Cannes film festival

The Tom Cruise mania landed on Wednesday in Cannes, where the actor made a quick appearance at the French film festival to walk the red carpet, receive a Surprise Palme d’Or and watch a squadron of French fighter jets soar above where the European premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick” took place.

Cannes celebrated the 59-year-old star in a big way, paying homage to Cruise not only with a rare onstage interview and red-carpet premiere, complete with a display flight of jets that left trails of colored smoke, but with the delivery unexpected award of an honorary Palme d’Or. Festival president Pierre Lescure announced the award — just a few 15 honorary Palms d’Or they’ve been delivered before—onstage just before the screening started. Cruise held the top prize at Cannes as the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Cruise brought quite a bit stir to the Croisette, where a crowd gathered around the Palais des Festivals shouting “Tom!” to try to see at least a little of the star. The song “Great Balls of Fire” resounded on the carpet.

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The actor had not been to the festival in three decades, but in the midst of the great disruption of other media challenging the movie experience, Cannes and Cruise exuded a vibe of old friends. “He is devoted to cinema,” declared artistic director Thierry Fremaux. Cruise’s enthusiastic welcome seemed somewhat like an action hero sent to save the day.

“I make movies for the big screen,” Cruise said between applause in an interview on stage at the Debussy room in Cannes.

The European premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick”, directed by Joseph Kosinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, was one of the most stellar red carpets at the Cannes Film Festival, which began on Tuesday and ends on May 28. Attendees included Viola Davis, Dakota Fanning, Omar Sy and Eva Longoria — along with “Top Gun: Maverick” stars Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell.

Cruise arrived by helicopter for the film’s premiere in San Diego, which took place aboard an aircraft carrier, he arrived in Cannes in a more traditional way, in a motorcade along with the cast and the production team. Cruise stopped for a few minutes to sign autographs and take photos with fans lined up across the street from the carpet.

Prior to this, the festival paid tribute to Cruise that consisted of a video montage covering his entire career, after which the actor spoke about his dedication to cinema in a interview who stayed away from any personal questions. Instead, she responded to interviewer Didier Allouc’s insistence on why Monsieur Cruise takes so many risks by doing his own stunts.

“Nobody asked Gene Kelly ‘why are you dancing?’” Cruise replied.

The stop in Cannes of “Top Gun: Maverick” is part of a world Tour of the film ahead of its US Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 30) release. In addition to the San Diego premiere, it had a red carpet in Mexico and landed at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Paramount Pictures delayed its release by two years due to the pandemic, a move that appears to be paying off with rave reviews and the expectation that “Top Gun: Maverick” will easily be Cruise’s biggest box office release.

When asked if he was ever tempted to send the film to a streaming, Cruise responded emphatically.

“No, that’s not going to happen neverCruise said to loud applause. “That was never going to happen.”

Cruise spent most of the conversation explaining his extreme dedication to the art of filmmaking, how from an early age he delved into every element of the film productions and analyzed how certain acting modes worked better on the big screen. He returned time and time again to the making of 1981’s “Taps” with George C. Scott as a formative experience.

“Please,” Cruise said, thinking back then, “if I could do this for the rest of my lifetime, I would never take it for granted.”

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