What I Learned about Being a Creative Person from Meeting Tom Cruise
With Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in theaters I thought it’d be fun to repost this article I wrote a couple years ago about Tom Cruise and the art of being yourself.
Have you ever wondered how to express yourself artistically in a way that captures the hearts and ignites the imagination of other people? I have, and I learned the secret as to how when I met Tom Cruise.
We all have a creative spark within us.
There are times we might not think so and we might not think of our creativity as anything special, but I disagree with that kind of thinking.
Your creativity is not only special, it is valuable.
Last year I met megastar, Tom Cruise. The man’s films have made a combined 8 billion dollars.
That’s huge! If box office dollars are used to gage the success of movies and the draw of actors or actresses, then Tom is undeniably at the top of the list.
Creativity is not always measured by financial success, but the more creative an actor or actress is, the more we are naturally drawn to him or her.
Sometimes though, one’s true creativity is not always obvious, until we understand what’s behind it.
In my opinion Tom is an extremely talented actor and uses his creativity in perhaps the best way possible by being himself and that’s what this post is about. I know he is a controversial person, so let’s only focus on his creativity in this article because there’s something positively valuable to learn from it.
Tom Cruise is not an accidental success.
When I met Tom Cruise I had the distinct feeling I was meeting Maverick from Top Gun or Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder or even, Ethan Hunt from Mission: Impossible.
When he shook my hand he looked me right in the eyes and said hello and I had to wonder for a moment if he was real or if I was meeting one of his characters in a vivid dream. Jerry Maguire, perhaps?
Tom Cruise’s persona was a bit overwhelming to say the least.
It was a very interesting experience, actually, because we were in an office with many other people, which (ahem) included Paula Patton, and Tom took time to talk to everyone, quite normally, even casually, but all the while I could not shake the impression he was one of his characters.
It made me want to pinch him, even though I had already shook his hand. Don’t worry, I didn’t.
He was real, and down to earth and extremely nice and gracious to everyone.
I learned something unexpected.
I wasn’t with those characters that day. I was with Tom Cruise. However, what I learned was that the characters he plays are a very real part of him.
What I mean is that Tom Cruise is an actor, but the majority of roles he plays are ones in which he basically can be himself.
He reminded me of John Wayne.
As you may know, Tom hasn’t won any academy awards yet and for that matter neither did John Wayne until very late, but nevertheless those two men are perhaps the biggest actors to ever show up on the silver screen, certainly the biggest draws by far.
One of the most frequent criticisms John Wayne received throughout his career was that all he did was play himself. It’s not surprising to me that Tom Cruise receives the same criticism.
I’d like to argue that being yourself should be a complement, and not a criticism.
Furthermore, here is my advice to anyone who creates:
Put as much of yourself into your art as you can. (Click here to tweet that.)
What I learned about being a truly creative person from Tom Cruise is this:
Consider Robert Downey Jr.
Robert’s movies were pretty much way out there for a while, interesting and intriguing, but not really great. As special as his performances were, especially as Chaplin, something seemed to be missing.
However, when he took on the roles of Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Sherlock Holmes something magnificent happened.
He seemed to come into his own, didn’t he?
Now consider that the characters Tony Stark (Iron Man – Avengers) and Sherlock Holmes are kind of snarky and totally full of themselves, they love to wisecrack and play practical jokes. You could probably include Chaplin to a degree with them.
The question is, do they remind you of anyone?
Those things are what Robert Downey Jr. has been known for off camera his entire career.
That’s pretty interesting don’t you think?
It’s all about you.
You don’t have to reinvent yourself to be creative. (Tweet this)
Most people try so darn hard to be what they think other people want them to be and say things they think others want to hear.
That’s not creative. That’s frustrating.
If you want to be creative in the most remarkable way, be yourself. (Tweet this)
Just. Be. Yourself.
I am willing to bet you’re a very interesting and compelling person, so don’t hide.
How much of yourself do you put into your art? Share in the comments.