We don’t know if he rappelled down the side of the New York Hilton or got dropped off by a spaceship, but Tom Cruise’s surprise appearance at the infernally long Friars Club roast of Matt Lauer this afternoon may have been his finest performance since convincing us to sit through Vanilla Sky. The two men have a very public feud dating back to a June 2005 interview in which they tangled over anti-depressants and the history of psychology, but this afternoon, Cruise was all smiles and perfectly delivered punch lines.
Cruise painted a picture of Lauer and him as bosom buddies — a friendship, Cruise said, that had resulted in tons of great advice from Lauer. None better, he said, than when he and Lauer were talking about what Cruise should say on a visit to Oprah to promote War of the Worlds just a few months after he’d met Katie Holmes. When Cruise said told Matt he wanted to talk about the movie, he said, “Over the phone I heard that angry sigh. People who know Matt know that angry sigh. Matt says, when people come on my show, you think I want to hear about their dopey movies? Tom, don’t be glib. Come on, man, you’re in love. It’s inspiring. Talk about that, okay? Go crazy, man. Trust me, people will love you for it.”
But deep down, Cruise admitted, he was jealous of Lauer. “See,” he said, “I have a hectic life jumping from international movie sets to amazing parties, never knowing what thrills the next day will bring. But you, on the other hand, I mean, you found happiness doing the same thing every day, never wondering how your life will change. Just sitting on a couch, interviewing the car from Knight Rider or making five-minute radish puffs with Rachael Ray.”
Cruise ended with a toast: “To our friend who we wake up to every morning only because we had the channel on NBC before we fell asleep.” He then told Lauer, “Lose my number, you glib putz.” And then signed off by finally saying, “Cruise out!” which was kind of unspeakably awesome. Lauer jumped up to the mike: “Tom, can you stay? We can get a booster seat.”
Later, Lauer explained that he’d never been prepared for what a sensation the infamous 2005 interview would be, until he went home, “and someone told me what the word glib actually means. That burned my fucking ass!” Lauer also announced that he and Cruise have an interview scheduled for December. “So officially we have now buried the hatchet,” he said. “But just between us, if he pulls that shit again, I will fuck him up. The guy is, like, five-foot-three. I will drop a building on his ass.”