“Tom Cruise is the wildest guy I have ever met on planet Earth,” Jake Johnson of New Girl fame tells Justin Long on his podcast, Life is Short, segueing into a 10-minute conversation about the Mission: Impossible actor, which begins with Johnson expressing interest in doing The Mummy.
As Johnson tells it, when he got the offer, he read the script and saw that it’s 30-pages of scenes with him and Tom Cruise, who famously does all his own stunts. “I think, ‘Nah. I know what this is going to be,” Johnson says on the podcast. He realizes that Cruise not only does his own stunts, but he’s going to want Johnson to do his, too. That’s not how Johnson prefers it. “There’s one thing I love in this business, and that is when they say, ‘Bring in the stunt people.'”
Basically, what happens to Johnson is that he agrees to do The Mummy with Tom Cruise before he reads the script, and after reading it, Johnson has a change of heart and realizes he no longer wants to do it. “Too scary,” he says. “Am I a coward? You bet your ass I am.” If the offer had come along before New Girl, Johnson says, “blow my ass to Mars. Put a bottle rocket in my butt cheeks. I need to eat.” But at this point in his career, Johnson had a steady job, so he let the powers that be know, “I think I’m out.”
However, Tom Cruise had already gotten excited about having Jake Johnson on board, and he’d started planning the movie with Johnson in mind. So, they told Johnson that if he wanted to pass on the movie, he’d have to go meet Tom Cruise and tell him in person. In London.
So, Johnson takes a day off of New Girl and flies 12 hours out to London to tell Tom Cruise that he can’t do The Mummy. However, by the time he lands in London, he’s exhausted. “I’ve been watching a bunch of weird sh*t and I had so much to drink,” Johnson says. He says he was also suffering from allergies, and he refused to go to the bathroom on the plane, so he had to pee.
The car service picks him up, and instead of taking him to the hotel to shower and reset, the driver takes him straight to the stage, per Cruise’s request. “I’m in cargo shorts, flip flops, with the airplane socks,” Johnson says. “I have like three sweatshirts on for no reason, and we go straight to the soundstage and I meet Tom. We have a meeting that lasts, like, hours.”
During that conversation, Cruise basically teases Johnson about being scared to do his own stunts, but in a generous way. “He’s a super funny guy, and he starts doing a lot of bits, and he’s like, ‘Are you comfortable sitting on a couch. Or do you need a stunt person for that?’ Mind you, I still have to go to the bathroom pretty intensely.”
What happened, according to Johnson, is that he tried to be “respectful and cool,” but “about 45 minutes in, I realize that I really like him, and I turned myself into a fan” and started asking him about all of his movies. “And the funny thing about Tom Cruise is, he’s been Tom Cruise for so long, he understands that people sort of need to do this.”
Anyway, Johnson eventually warms up to the idea of doing The Mummy because of how much he likes Cruise, although he does say to him, “I heard about you strapping yourself to the side of a plane for Mission: Impossible. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want this to be a story of, like, ‘Tom Cruise and fellow actor fall off a building and their heads get smashed.’ Because in Sweden, there’s going to be a big photo of you. But there’s not going to be a big photo of the fat guy from New Girl next to you.”
“I gotta say, though,” Johnson continues. “I’m glad I did it, because he really was a joy to work with, and he’s a really wild guy. And part of the fun in our business is that you get to work with really wild people.” Johnson explains more about why Cruise is so “wild” on Long’s podcast, including some of the stunt work they did together on The Mummy.
Source: Life is Short with Justin Long