For some in the space community, it sounded like the rehash of an old rumor: “Tom Cruise Plots Movie To Shoot In Space…” read the headline of a Deadline Hollywood article published last month.
The “exclusive”—all three paragraphs of it—was short on details, but the mention of Cruise and space was all that was needed for other publications to want to run with the story and for social media to light up with the news.
But this was not the first time that had happened.
Four years ago, almost to the day, a British tabloid claimed that Cruise had been training for a flight on the space shuttle and could have been among the astronauts who died on board the orbiter Columbia in 2003. The Daily Star’s report of the actor’s previous “top secret mission” quickly spread across the Web until NASA stepped in and quashed the story.
Whether spurred on by that bit of “fake news” or Cruise’s track record of trying to top his own daring stunts in each of his hit action movies, another rumor began gaining traction in 2018 that the next installment in Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise would be what finally sent him off the planet. “He’s not going to space, nor does he need to go to space,” Director Christopher McQuarrie told Empire in February of this year.
So in light of that precedent, it was a bit of a surprise when the head of NASA, Jim Bridenstine, took to Twitter the day after that Deadline report to confirm the scoop: “NASA is excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station!” he wrote.
Why is the idea of filming in space any different this time around? Just when the 2018 rumors about the next Mission: Impossible movie were starting to make the rounds, Cruise himself explained why the concept of an actor going into space was a problem.
“It is the mechanics of getting it there,” Cruise said in an August 2018 interview with Collider. “How do you build a sequence there, and how long can we have that sequence? Because if I went up … how do you put that into the structure of a screenplay of a ‘Mission?’
“It’s just not there yet,” he concluded.
Barely two years later, why Cruise reportedly changed his mind might have to do with the…