When you think of a movie star, Tom Cruise might be the very first name that comes to mind. He's been stealing America's heart onscreen since the early 1980s, and he's ready to do it again this summer with his action-comedy Knight and Day.
After more than 20 years of making movies, Tom says he still loves meeting his fans. "Most people are just really warm. They just want to say hello, and I enjoy that," he says. But as successful as he's been onscreen, Tom says his personal life is what makes him feel most blessed. He's married to actress Katie Holmes, with whom he has a 4-year-old daughter, Suri. He also has two children from his previous marriage to actress Nicole Kidman—15-year-old Connor and 17-year-old Bella. "Life is very good. I'm very happy. Kids are growing up, love my wife. I feel very lucky," he says.
Suri gets almost as much press coverage as Tom does and has become known for her fabulous 4-year-old fashion. "Whatever she wants to wear, she wears it. I'm not going to tell her different," Tom says. "She's got great taste too. She tells me what to wear."
Because she's lived her whole life in the spotlight, Tom says Suri doesn't mind the paparazzi attention. "We don't make it a problem. We don't get nervous about it," Tom says. "You get used to it after so long, and Kate is a very relaxed person, and you just deal with it."
Tom's oldest daughter is 17, but he says so far he's not a worried father when it comes to her dating. "Bella has a very strong sense of herself," Tom says. "She's a good girl, so whoever she likes, it's cool."
As for Connor's dating life, Tom says he doesn't have too much input. "He's pretty smart so I just listen," he says. "And I also tell him, you know, he's got plenty of time for that."
Connor is following his father's footsteps and going into acting, first playing the young Will Smith in Seven Pounds and, more recently, starring in a remake of Red Dawn. "He just has natural raw talent," Tom says. "He's very charismatic."
Raising children in the spotlight can be tough, but Tom says he tries to keep them grounded. "Before we go places, I set up studies for them so they can study the culture of the people and the geography, so they actually have a broader perspective," he says. "I think with that comes a greater understanding and appreciation for life. For people. I think that's really important."
It's hard to imagine the life of a Hollywood A-lister on a Saturday night, but Tom says his weekends are pretty standard. "Saturday night we have dinner, and then it's games. We play Quick Scrabble, and then it's usually movie night. We spend the whole night figuring out what movies we want to see."
The world might see him as a celebrity, but Tom says he's a dad first. "Being a parent, every day it's like 'How did I do? How am I doing?'" he says. "When they were little I made a promise, I said, 'No matter what, if I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it.' That has a been a solid thing. ... That paid off."
All fathers have a dream for their families, and Tom says his is a simple one. "[I hope] that they find out what gives them pleasure in their work, so that it's not work, and that they're happy," he says. "I want them to produce in life and help society."
In Knight and Day, Tom plays a fugitive superspy. His co-star, Cameron Diaz, plays a lonely women whose random meeting with Tom's character turns her life upside down. The action-packed film is filled with stunts, and Tom says he performed almost all of them himself. In fact, he designed one of the film's most jaw-dropping maneuvers. "I'm always thinking of different stunts. I look at buildings and think, how could I climb it? How could I jump out? I was working on this...and I said, 'Look, we've got to do something where Cameron is on the bike and I get to flip her around and she shoots guns,'" he says."I'm very careful about it when I do it. Very studied, but I enjoy it. When I was a little kid, I used to go up on a roof and jump off the roof into the snow and do flips and stuff, and now I get to do it in movies."
Cameron says working with Tom was especially rewarding because, aside from being a lot of fun, he expects a lot of his co-stars. "He has a very high standard," she says. "So that's a wonderful thing. That's what you know you're getting when you're working with Tom. You know that you're getting someone who is dedicated to bringing the best product forward possible, and to do that, you have to be engaged in the process."
Cameron has a busy summer—she's also starring in Shrek Forever After—but says she's loving where she is in her life. "I couldn't ever dream a dream this big," she says. "But it's not like I've reached the pinnacle now; I'm still in the journey. It's not over 'til it's over, you know?"
As for the fame, Cameron says she is incredibly grateful. "Your relationship with fame changes over a period of time. Again, it's like a journey. You start off one place and you're trying to get your footing underneath it," she says. "Ultimately in the world we live in, fame doesn't last 15 minutes in the same way it used to. You're always there in some way, and Tom and I have been very fortunate that we've been able to sustain or position as famous people, only because we get to do what we love to do, which is make movies."
Resisting the fame that comes with her level of success would probably make Cameron unhappy, she says. "When people want to come up and say something nice to you, that is a wonderful, beautiful gift that people give to you on a day-to-day basis," she says. "If you resist that, then you're miserable. And who wants to be miserable?"
Like Cameron, Tom says fame is a side dish but not the main event. "I never wanted to be famous. I wanted to make movies," he says. "I want to entertain people."