The Real Deal: Working With Tom Cruise
Say Yes To Everything
I have Holly Hunter to thank for DIRECTLY recommending me to Tom Cruise. It happened while they were working together on the movie THE FIRM. Holly had already shot THE PIANO and Tom was getting ready to shoot INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.
It started with a five hour scheduling phone call from Paris, back when you still paid for international calls by the minute. We scheduled five weeks every day, 35 hour and a half lessons. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be teaching Tom Cruise for his upcoming role in, “Interview With The Vampire”. He needed to learn two pieces: Haydn’s Piano Sonata in Eb No. 59 on piano and La Dauphine by Rameau on harpsichord.
On the phone we had worked everything out except the address, which they promised to give me by the time the lessons started. However the day before the start date… I still hadn’t been given an address…. so I had to call them. No response. Yikes!
The next morning at 11AM, the day lessons were scheduled to start, I finally got a call saying they wouldn’t be able to start until a day later and, “By the way- the director is coming. Can you play the whole piece for him while he blocks out the camera angles?” (I had only been asked to play a small segment and this was a 45-minute piano sonata….) “Yes, I can do that.” So I stayed up all night practicing the whole piece.
Morning finally rolled around and it was nearly 9 AM when my phone rang, “Can you come an hour early?” “Yes, I’ll be there.” So I raced from my home in West Hollywood to the Pacific Palisades, took a deep breath, knocked on the door, and Tom answered with a big smile, “Hi, I’m Tom.”
No kidding...I had bought a set of fangs… and it was my intention to pitch the director, Neil Jordan, on using my neck in the movie. I thought it would be a great deal for the production company to use my neck (aka me as an actress) AND have me as an on-set advisor. Most of the film was shot in New Orleans and London so it was going to be a fun pitch. I did bring out the fangs on day one and we all had a laugh. However the director was in a hurry, seemed unimpressed and I had stayed up all night practicing for no reason, as I never had to play the piece!!!
It was so exciting to see a piano in one room and a harpsichord in the other room at Tom’s house. Tom had never studied any musical instruments and he was really excited too. We did have to change harpsichords in the middle of the stream so to speak. The harpsichord that they had originally chosen only had one keyboard manual but the piece they had chosen required two manuals. I had to go to the production company and convince the art department etc to change the harpsichord based on the piece. I was even hoping for a music consultant credit.
Tom was a fantastic student. A beginner… but focused and dedicated. And super nice, fun, enthusiastic and he basically said, “Yes” to everything…He had a very intense schedule for this movie packed with fencing, French and many other lessons. He would call me on his speakerphone while playing the pieces and ask if he was doing it right… It was so endearing. He loved the lessons and said he was going to continue studying piano with me for the rest of his life. Yes, Tom…. Anytime- I’m waiting!
I hope you enjoy these these excerpts of Haydn’s Piano Sonata in Eb No. 59.
PS Be sure to catch Tom in his newest film MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:ROGUE NATION and Congrats to Tom and Cousin Don on a job very well done!