I knew ‘Valkyrie’ would be controversial: Tom CruiseJanuary 27th, 2009 - 9:03 am ICT by IANS
London, Jan 27 (IANS) Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, who admits that he grew up “wanting to kill Hitler”, is unfazed by the criticism Nazi thriller “Valkyrie” faces. He says he knew that any story showing “good Germans” would hit the headlines.”I knew it (’Valkyrie’) would be controversial. We’ve never seen this perspective before. But I couldn’t ignore it because the story is so compelling - it’s about trying to bring down the greatest evil in the world from the inside and that makes for a fantastic thriller,” Cruise told dailymail.co.uk.
“In fact, I grew up wanting to kill Hitler. As a kid I would run around with a pretend-gun playing games, acting out the war films we watched on TV,” he added.
Directed by Bryan Singer, “Valkyrie” is the true story of a group of senior German officers who plotted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Cruise plays aristocratic German officer Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg, who led the plot.
Releasing Feb 20 in India, the film opened Jan 23 in Britain and Dec 25 in North America to large collections.
The actor was, however, criticised by von Stauffenberg’s son Berthold and a leading anti-Scientology German politician for playing the Colonel because of his religion.
To add to this, the producers were almost denied permission to shoot at BendlerBlock (the German military headquarters in Berlin where the conspirators planned their coup and where von Stauffenberg was executed) by a sceptical government.
Cruise, on the other hand, pointed out that the “German officials reversed their decision to bar them from BendlerBlock after learning more about the film and the German Federal Film Fund eventually ploughed 4.7 million pounds into the 56-million pound budget for the film”.
“Even Berthold retracted his statement and said that he would give his verdict on the film once he’d seen it,” the actor said.
About people objecting to his religion, Cruise said: “There’s a really small minority who said that about my religion. There were a couple of people who felt that way about it but most of the things they said just aren’t true,” he said.
In Germany, the film opened Jan 22 and received a mixed response from both audiences and critics.
The filmmakers had to get special permission from the government to use Nazi flags and banners considering swastikas are banned in Germany, Cruise said.
Playing the Colonel was not an easy task for him as he had to wear an eye patch and hide his hand in a sleeve in most parts to demonstrate a wounded Stauffenberg, who lost his left eye, his right hand and two fingers from his left hand in a battle.
“The eye patch was difficult. At first, it threw my balance off and I would imagine the kind of physical discomfort he had to live with. It was also challenging,” he said.
Obsession to detail with the Nazi uniforms had its complications too.
“They had great uniforms, great designs. But there was a perversion with those things. My immediate response was, ‘I hate this uniform’. But I had to get used to seeing myself wearing it, although it was disturbing to look at the world from that perspective,” Cruise said.
The 46-year-old did tremendous research for the 120-minute thriller.
He started with reading “The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich” by William Shirer, “Stauffenberg: A Family History”, and as much of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” as he could manage.
He then took to “watching extensive footages from World War II”, including home movies shot by Hitler’s lover Eva Braun, and “The World At War”, the British series narrated by Laurence Olivier.
Not many know that before filming at Bendlerblock, Cruise led the cast and crew in a minute’s silence in remembrance of the martyrs.
“It affected all of us to be there. The movie isn’t about us, it’s about representing the spirit of those people. It was a very powerful moment,” he said.