People

Cruising to success

Paul Thomas Anderson is the hottest young filmmaker in L.A.

Brian D. Johnson February 7 2000
People

Cruising to success

Paul Thomas Anderson is the hottest young filmmaker in L.A.

Brian D. Johnson February 7 2000

Cruising to success

People

Paul Thomas Anderson is the hottest young filmmaker in L.A.

Tanya Davies

Anyone who remembers Tom Cruise playing air guitar in his underwear 17 years ago in Risky Business might be surprised to see him with his pants off in Magnolia. Once again, he strips down to a pair of white briefs, but they are, well, visibly more filled out. “People grow,” shrugs Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson by way of explanation. Cruise recently won a Golden Globe Award as best supporting actor for Magnolia, in which he plays a macho motivational speaker who teaches men how to pick up women. “He’s just come offstage from the seminar and he’s sweating,” says Anderson, explaining how Cruise’s character ended up stripping in front of a female TV interviewer in the scene. “Tom had this wonderful idea. He thought, ‘I want to intimidate her, so what if I change my shirt?’ And I said, ‘What if you change your pants too, hotshot! Stick your crotch out there.’ ”

At 30, Anderson is the hottest young director in Hollywood. Growing up in Los Angeles, he has done for the San Fernando Valley what Martin Scorsese did for the „ mean streets of Manhattan—the Valley is the setting for | both Boogie Nights (1997), Anderson’s gonzo ode to the | porn industry, and Magnolia, a sprawling mosaic of £ damaged lives. Recently, Anderson showed up with his f live-in girlfriend, singer Fiona Apple, to accept the Toronto Film Critics Association’s award naming Magnolia the best movie of 1999. “I think she’d be a phenomenal actress,” says Anderson, who has directed Apple, 22, in two music videos. “But she’s very self-conscious that, if you’re a young singer-songwriter, it’s obligatory you act in a movie. She wants to stick to her day job.”

With Magnolia, meanwhile, Anderson has directed the most emotionally charged performance of Cmise’s career. Referring to a scene in which Cruise’s testosterone dynamo breaks down and cries, the filmmaker says: “I heard this rumour that we had to do 30 or 40 takes to get that. But there were eight takes, and we used the third one. He was so ready, he poured out too much emotion. It was my job to pare it back.” With his compact role in Magnolia, Cruise shows more emotion than in Eyes Wide Shut, which he spent 15 months

shooting with the late Stanley Kubrick. “It’s a funny myth that Tom can’t act,” says Anderson, who visited Cruise on Kubrick’s set, “because he is the most serviceable actor

there is. Kubrick, the f----n’ maniac, he’s

like, ‘Try one where your left eyebrow is just an inch higher.’ And Tom was able to do it. You give him any direction and he can do it.” Next, Anderson hopes to make a comedy with Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler? “I just think he’s a genius,” says Anderson. “And I think he’s got a lot more to offer than the „ movies he’s doing.” In Magnolia, Anderson I makes it rain frogs; if he can wring great I acting from the star of The Waterboy, he § may just be a miracle worker.

Brian D. Johnson