A few notes before we begin:
- There are lots of great pictures of Tom Cruise. I know because I’ve gotten lost in his Getty archive for hours at a time. He just … he fascinates me. Look at the picture at the top of this post, for example. That’s him zipping across the water in Cannes in a two-person speedboat and standing up — STANDING UP! IN A SUIT! — to wave to fans and photographers. He’s risking life and limb to be friendly to people he doesn’t even know. That’s Tom Cruise in a nutshell: recklessly friendly.
- His Getty archive is also loaded with pictures like this one, in which he’s standing in front of some foreign country’s historic architecture and waving to photographers. Presumably, this happens because he’s a huge movie star and the local press wants a shot of him enjoying the scenery, but if you look at enough of them he starts to look like a goofy American tourist who travels alone and forces pedestrians to take pictures of him at various monuments. This, to be clear, is hilarious.
- All of that said, the picture we are discussing here is the best picture of Tom Cruise. I will not be accepting counterarguments.
You know what? Let’s take this apart piece-by-piece, into its most important elements, just like we did with this picture of George Clooney. And away we go.
Siegfried and Roy are there
They sure are, as explained by the caption for the photo at Getty’s website:
Actress Penelope Cruz feeds Atlas, a five-month-old white Siberian tiger, as actor Tom Cruise and entertainers Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn look on January 5, 2002 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Cruise and Cruz stopped backstage after seeing the Siegfried and Roy show.
I’m gonna be honest with you. This is actually a little disappointing. I really wanted this to be a candid photo of Tom Cruise just hanging out with Siegfried and Roy, like they’re friends. Like maybe they went out to dinner every Friday and Tom — always curious, he — just peppered them with questions about tigers and other exotic animals until he ended up becoming the world’s foremost expert on jungle cats. You could see him getting very intense about this, couldn’t you? I could.
This was just Penelope Cruz’s life for a while
[Penelope Cruz runs into an old friend while visiting family]
OLD FRIEND: Hey, Penelope! Wow! I haven’t seen you in, what, eight years? Maybe 10? What the hell have you been up to?
PENELOPE CRUZ: Last week I fed a baby white tiger with a bottle while Tom Cruise and Siegfried & Roy held it in the air and cheered me on.
OLD FRIEND: Oh… oh. Wow.
Did … did that tiger pee on Tom Cruise?
Okay, one of two things happened here: Either (1) the bottle that Penelope Cruz is using to feed the tiger dribbled and a little milk ended up on the leg of Tom Cruise’s jeans, or (2) that tiger pissed on Tom Cruise.
The bottle thing is more likely, I suppose, both because the stains appear to line up vertically with the tiger’s mouth and because I imagine tigers piss like busted-open fire hydrants and there would be a much more substantial stain as a result. Still, I have chosen to believe it is the latter option because it makes me laugh to think about Tom Cruise being so happy about feeding a tiger with Siegfried and Roy that he doesn’t even care a little that the tiger pissed on his $800 jeans and he has to wear them to dinner after the show.
Look how happy Tom Cruise is
Have you ever, in your entire life, seen anyone as happy as Tom Cruise is in this picture? I mean, look at him. Look at Tom Cruise. Look at his face. You could light up a stadium with that wattage.
It actually brings me to another point, which I think is very important: We, as a society, have really given Tom Cruise a bum deal lately. Say what you will about the Scientology thing, but on a personal level, he just seems like a super nice, super enthusiastic guy who we all decided was crazy one day. I actually developed a theory about it, which is that you, Mr. or Mrs. Internet Cynic, would change your tune about Tom Cruise if you actually met him. I think you would change your tune fast. And when I ran this theory by our own Cajun Boy, he informed me that when the movie Hell Baby was filming in his New Orleans home, pretty much the entire cast said Cruise is possibly the nicest, most genuine, loving person in show business. He’s just an excitable dude who likes running in movies and feeding exotic animals by hand. Is that really so wrong? Think about it for a while.
But anyway, yes, this is the best picture of Tom Cruise.