How weird does a celebrity have to be before we stop watching their films?

All celebrities are a bit weird, so when one is known for being Weird Even For A Celebrity, you know they are probably crossing over to actually quite scary

Of the many deeply uncool things I am obsessed with The Golden Girls, the oeuvre of Roxette, Princess Annes hair the uncoolest is also the one that has been with me the longest. Tom Cruise has been a part of my mental landscape ever since I was old enough to read in a magazine that I was supposed to fancy him. I was alive in the 80s and, as strange as this is now to think about, what with his deeply unsexy obsession since with thetans, back then he was very much pitched as Mr Sexxxxxy. Which is even stranger when you think that Cruise didnt even grow into his face for another decade: back in Risky Business and The Outsiders, he looked vague and doughy next to his co-stars, particularly the Adonis that was the young Rob Lowe.

Cruise was never really my type, but I will argue until closing time and beyond that he is one of the most watchable actors of all time: a proper Hollywood star who proved in one decade he could do top notch schlock (Top Gun), mediocre schlock (Cocktail) and proper acting (Born On The Fourth Of July and Rain Man, for which he should have won the Oscar instead of Dustin Hoffman).

Its been fascinating to watch Cruises career since then, partly because of what his choice of roles says about him. There was his dramatic period in the 90s when he made relentless Oscar bids, peaking with Magnolia, and then, when that failed, his huffy retreat into decreasingly memorable action movies. He also stopped ageing or rather, his ageing process took the shape of not actually growing older but increasingly resembling Sandi Toksvig. And that, too, has been fascinating in its way to watch.

But Im also interested in Cruise because of what he reveals about what audiences will accept in their stars. Now, all celebrities are a bit weird, so when one is known for being Weird Even For A Celebrity, you know they are probably crossing over from adorably eccentric to actually quite scary. Its been known for a while that Cruise crossed that line when he started wanging on about Scientology. But it is genuinely interesting how people just shrug off stories of his troubling relationships with women.

Last week it emerged that Cruises ex-wife Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx are in a relationship, after having kept this a secret for at least four years. This would be hard to do under normal circumstances, but is frankly Oscar-worthy in the case of two celebrities. It is also so contrary to modern celebrity ethos, which treats romance as a branding opportunity, that it seems downright alien. By contrast, Holmes and Foxx waited to reveal their relationship until almost five years to the day that she got divorced from Cruise, and it is being widely reported that this is because, in order to secure a quick divorce, Holmes had to agree to not date anyone publicly for half a decade.

Whether this is true or not is one of the many things about Cruise we will probably never know for sure. But the point is, after years of his increasingly freaky behaviour and the rumours about his relationships with actress Nazanin Boniadi, then Holmes, it sounds sufficiently plausible for no one to question it. Sure! the public shrugs. Controlling your ex-wifes life for five years that sounds like our Tom! Whens Mission Impossible 22 out anyway? If people dont see his movies now its because he makes lame movies, not because of his relationships.

Male celebrities are still given an enormous amount of rope when it comes to their treatment of women, despite multiple lessons from the past. Last week another actor who is notoriously Weird Even For A Celebrity, Jim Carrey, gave a completely creepy red carpet interview, in which he sharkishly, Trumpishly, walked in circles around the female reporter and indulged in teenage-level musings on metaphysics. Two days earlier it was announced that Netflix has bought Carreys documentary, Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, which had just got universally glowing reviews without anyone mentioning Carrey is about to face a wrongful death trial over the suicide of his ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White. Carrey has denied all the allegations and has tried to stop the trial, by initially insisting Whites bereaved mother pay a $372,000 bond. Ace Ventura was a long time ago, people.

Actors are now regularly criticised if they sign on to a Woody Allen movie, because accusations of child molestation, even if deemed inconclusive by a judge 25 years ago, are too much. But suggestions of creepy controlling behaviour around women are, apparently, still fine. From Howard Hughes onwards, this has always been the celebrity way. Maybe Tom Cruise really is the full Hollywood package.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/sep/23/how-weird-celebrity-before-stop-watching-films

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