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CANNES, France (AP) — Tom Cruise mania descended on Cannes on Wednesday where the actor made a whirlwind appearance at the French film festival to screen “Top Gun: Maverick,” elevate the big screen and sit down for a rare interview.

Cruise made a palpable buzz on the Croisette, where crowds gathered around the Palais des Festivals to catch a glimpse of the 59-year-old star. Cruise hadn’t been to the festival in three decades. But with plenty of media disruption questioning the theatrical experience, Cannes and Cruise were giving off the vibe of longtime pals. “He devotes himself to cinema,” said artistic director Thierry Fremaux. Cruise’s enthusiastic reception felt in some ways like an action hero sent in to save the day.

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

The festival honored Cruise with a tribute that consisted of a video montage spanning his entire career, after which Cruise spoke about his dedication to filmmaking in an interview that stayed away from personal matters. Instead, he answered questions from interviewer Didier Allouc about why, Mr. Cruise, do you take such risks doing your own stunts?

“Nobody asked Gene Kelly ‘Why are you dancing?'” Cruise replied.

The Cannes stopover of “Top Gun: Maverick” is part of a world tour of the film before its opening on Memorial Day weekend. It has already landed at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and premiered aboard an aircraft carrier in San Diego. Paramount Pictures delayed its release for 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 score the biggest opening weekend ever. by Cruise.

When asked if he had ever been tempted to direct the film to a streaming service, Cruise replied emphatically.

“No, that will never happen,” Cruise replied to loud applause. “That would never happen.”

Cruise spent most of the conversation explaining his extreme dedication to the art of cinema, how from a young age he dug into every element of film productions and analyzed how certain modes of action worked best on the big screen. . Filming the 1981 film “Taps” with George C. Scott, he returned again and again as a formative experience.

“Please,” Cruise said 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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Jake Coyle, The Associated Press