You remember late in Michael Jackson’s actual career how he used to bring in certain big name stars (Michael Jordan, Justin Timberlake, etc.) to help out on his videos and albums in order to give him the appearance of cultural relevancy?
Tom Cruise, it appears, is trying the same approach. Cruise — who is the epitome of competent acting, if nothing else — has rarely chosen wrong when it comes to scripts, and has been diligent about surrounding himself with the right talent and the right directors, which have allowed most of his movies to do well, sometimes in spite of himself. I think this summer’s Knight and Day may be the perfect example of that — established director (James Mangold), a perfectly serviceable romantic lead (Cameron Diaz) and a solid supporting cast (Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Grace, Paul Dano).
Cruise’s next project, however, seems to go completely against what’s got him where he is, and what’s led him through the public relations nightmare that was his life over the last few years.
Nikke Finke is reporting that Cruise is expected to start filming on his next project, Northern Lights this April. The movie is set to be directed by John Moore (Max Payne), who is easily the worst director that Cruise has worked with since Roger Donaldson in 1988’s Cocktail. And get this: His co-star will be Taylor Lautner, who is reportedly receiving $7.5 million to play Cruise’s son in the movie.
Taylor Lautner? Did Cruise’s handlers get loose? What the fuck? The Twilight star is not just one of the least competent actors in Hollywood, but is clearly a flash in the pan, who I would not expect to be much of anything outside of the Twilight world (see also, Robert Pattinson).
The film is about “a gifted, young, aerobatics pilot who faces off with his controlling, billionaire father and falls in love with a gifted, female pilot.” Lautner will play that young pilot, while Cruise will play the domineering father, which actually seems to suggest that Cruise may be playing a supporting role. In support of Lautner. Which is horrifying.
On the other hand: If Cruise wants another Oscar nomination, anybody looks like goddamn Meryl Streep when playing off of Lautner, who couldn’t sell a line to Mickey Rourke in the 90s. But given Lautner’s shelf life, if they don’t hurry up on production of Northern Lights, it may be headed straight to DVD in 2011.