Tom Cruise and Top Gun Maverick land in Cannes: the actor receives the honorary Palme d’Or

Tom Cruise mania subsided Wednesday at Cannes, where the actor made a whirlwind appearance at the film festival, walked the red carpet, received a surprise Palme d’Or and watched a squadron of French fighter jets fly over the European premiere of Top Gun: Maverick. .

Cannes went to great lengths to celebrate the 59-year-old star, paying homage to Cruise not only with a rare onstage interview and a red carpet premiere featuring jets flying overhead leaving a trail of colored smoke, but also with the unexpected presentation of an Honorary Palme d’Or. The festival’s president, Pierre Lescure, announced the award (some 15 Palms of Honor have been awarded before) on stage just before the screening began. Cruise kept the top prize at Cannes as the audience gave the actor a standing ovation.

Cruise brought a palpable buzz to the Croisette, where crowds gathered around the Palais des Festivals chanting “Tom!” to try and catch a glimpse of the 59-year-old star. Great Balls of Fire echoed across the carpet.

Cruise had not been to the festival in three decades. But with plenty of media interruptions challenging the theatrical experience, Cannes and Cruise exuded the vibe of the last friends. “He is dedicated to cinema,” declared artistic director Thierry Fremaux. Cruise’s enthusiastic welcome was somehow mixed with the reception of an action hero, here to save the day.

“I make movies for the big screen,” Cruise said to applause in an interview onstage at the Debussy Theater in Cannes.

The European premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, directed by Joseph Kosinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, brought what is likely to be one of the most star-studded red carpets of the Cannes Film Festival, which opens Tuesday and runs through May 28. Viola Davis, Dakota Fanning, Omar Sy and Eva Longoria attended, along with Top Gun stars Maverick, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Glen Powell.

Although Cruise arrived by helicopter to the film’s premiere in San Diego aboard an aircraft carrier, he arrived at the Cannes premiere in a more traditional manner, with the film’s cast and filmmakers in a cavalcade of cars. Cruise paused for several minutes to sign autographs and take photos with fans lining the red carpet.

Prior to that, the festival honored Cruise with a career-spanning video montage tribute, after which Cruise discussed his dedication to filmmaking in an interview that steered clear of any personal questions. Instead, she responded to interviewer Didier Allouch’s production on why, Monsieur Cruise, does he take so many risks doing his own stunts?

“Nobody asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance?’” Cruise replied.

The Cannes stop for Top Gun: Maverick is part of a world tour for the film ahead of its May 27 release in theaters. It has already landed at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and premiered in San Diego. Paramount Pictures delayed its release by two years during the pandemic, a move that appears to be paying off with rave reviews and box office expectations that Top Gun: Maverick will easily mark Cruise’s biggest opening weekend in history.

When asked if he was ever tempted to submit the film to a streaming service, Cruise responded emphatically. “No, that’s never going to happen,” Cruise responded 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 a very early age he delved into every element of film productions and analyzed how certain modes of acting worked best on the big screen. While filming the 1981 film Taps with George C. Scott, he returned to it again and again as a formative experience.

“Please,” Cruise said, thinking at the time, “if I could do this for the rest of my life, I would never take it for granted.”

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