Lee Randall: No-one is remotely surprised that Katie Holmes is filing for divorce
THERE are actors – thespians, if you will – and there are movie stars. Occasionally the twain shall meet and so, for instance, we get Mel Gibson tackling Hamlet (to not universally awful reviews), or heading in the other direction, Sir Ian McKellen’s turn as Magneto for the X-Men concession.
But there’s a third category: movie deity. Its sole inhabitant, at time of writing, is Tom Cruise, who banked an estimated £45 million last year, making him the highest paid movie star this planet has ever produced.
Yet while we flock to see him perform on the big screen, the world is less enamoured of his religion of choice, Scientology. Regarded by many as both specious and sinister, it is also deemed to be enormously powerful, especially in LA, and dangerous when crossed.
Now, none of us whose eyebrows shot sky-high when Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch, professing passionate love for actress Katie Holmes, are remotely surprised by her decision to file for divorce after five-and-a-half years of marriage. Nor is it a big shock that in the press, at least, Scientology is getting the blame, with rumours rife that she fears their daughter Suri was about to be indoctrinated by the… shall we just go ahead and say cult?
As box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the New York Times: “Let’s be honest, if he does another Mission Impossible, no one will care one lick about the divorce.” (The last one took in more than $600 million.)
We’re quite happy to indulge stars who are larger than life – I’d argue that we even expect them to crank up the crazy. It is part and parcel of the wish fulfilment aspect of Hollywood.
If you need examples, start with the hugely popular Nicolas Cage: three marriages and a son born out of wedlock, and a reputation for eccentricity that includes unverified stories about everything from bats to witchcraft. Then there’s the critically acclaimed Robert Downey Jr, whose gun-toting misadventures while a drug addict are legendary, and who recently told a London broadsheet that his sexuality is “extremely fluid”.
If we buy into the notion that the Cruise-Holmes marriage was a contract with an expiry date and that Scientology is all-reaching and all-powerful, then we have to acknowledge that Cruise is probably manipulating the marionette strings, up to and including the announcement’s coming on the eve of his 50th birthday, to wring out a drop of pity for the man.
My bet is that this is all part of a grand plan to ensure that the furore has died down by the time Cruise’s next film hits cinemas. I also predict that his fans will continue to keep those cash registers kerchinging in perpetuity. And that, dear readers, is the real name of this game.
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