So that there is no confusion, let me just begin by saying that I am NOT an Impersonator. That being said, I have been making a surprisingly good living doing just that. For the past 3 years or so, I have been fortunate to have lent my unique ability to a slew of webisodes, commercials, animated cartoons, and even corporate events. How did this all come about ? How exactly did I develop the skill set to channel the world’s biggest movie star?
The true origin of my freakishly accurate portrayal of Tom Cruise can be traced back to my freshman year at Boston University. Due to delays in filing my housing paperwork, I was placed in the Howard Johnson Hotel on Commonwealth Avenue, which doubled as a dorm room for delinquent students such as myself. I was not looking forward to moving into a hotel, for fear that I would be missing out on a real dorm experience. Turns out my fears were completely unwarranted. What was supposed to be a punishment instead turned out to be an enormous blessing in disguise. Let me explain… Each of our rooms was equipped with free cable (including HBO, which I never had growing up), two Queen Sized Beds, excellent air conditioning, and many of us were fortunate enough to have balconies. Aside from these benefits, we were all pretty much spoiled rotten! How many college freshman do you know that were privileged enough to have MAID SERVICE? I would purposefully leave garbage or spill various substances on my floor, knowing that it would be taken care of the next morning. Rest assured, I always made sure to leave a tip. Besides maid service, none of us living there faced an ounce of campus security. We would literally roll a keg through the front lobby, in to the elevator, and up to our rooms without ever being stopped or questioned. We were FRESHMAN for god sakes and we were getting nothing less than the “Royal Treatment.” I apologize for the long-winded description of my dorm life, but it’s entirely necessary for what is to follow. Despite the HOJO’s being an awesome residence for incoming freshman, it wasn’t without its faults. The main issue was that as a dorm, it wasn’t a particularly social atmosphere. To combat this, many of us bolder types would knock on random rooms so as to get acquainted with our neighbors, mainly the attractive female student body. One of my neighbors was an ambitious young director from NYC, named Alex, who also happened to do a bang up Jean Claude Van Damme impression. He would soon become one of my closest friends. One night, a couple of us gathered together over beers to plan our first weekend of partying. After Alex was finished entertaining us with a flurry of hilarious lines from Hard Target and Double Impact, he told me that I bore a striking resemblance to Tom Cruise. Not so much the look. Rather, he said I possessed the very same vocal chords and mannerisms of the movie star. You see, Jerry Maguire had just hit the theaters and everyone was talking about it. Alex suggested I learn a bunch of Cruise’s lines from his movies (namely Jerry Maguire and Risky Business), knock on girl’s dorm rooms, so we could perform together as Tom Cruise to his Jean-Claude Van Damme in the hopes of charming the pants off thes unsuspecting young women…literally. It was a successful routine we had. It would go something like this…
Tom C: Hey, It’s Tom. Tom Cruise. Anybody seen an aircraft carrier around here? (top gun)
JCVD: (thick French accent). So…youre telling me that after 25 years…I have an uncle in Zimbabwe.
Tom C: You don’t know what it’s like to be out here for you. It’s an up at dawn pride swallowing siege that I can never fully tell you about. Just help me, help you… HELP ME…HELP YOU… (Jerry Maguire)
JCVD: God gave me a great body and it’s my duty to take care of my physical temple.
They would subsequently laugh, invite us in for a few rounds of drinks, and we’d make new friends. Worked like a charm. Unfortunately, no one cared to remember my real name. I was known around campus as…you guessed it… “Tom.”
I believe that this ability to emulate Cruise’s voice and mannerisms was something that lay dormant within me. All that was needed was the right catalyst to awaken the sleeping beast. At the time, this catalyst was Alex. Anyone we met, he would insist I do my Cruise impression for them. He didn’t take no for an answer and to this day makes sure everyone knows that he is credited with the discovery of my ability. From the frat parties at BU to poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, my Tom Cruise impression became quite the crowd pleaser. I even recorded people’s voice mail messages. But after a while, I decided to put it to bed. In my mind, I had beaten it into the ground and the atmosphere was definitely saturated. Little did I know this was just the beginning and I had barely scraped the surface of its potential.
Many years later, when the enormous power of YouTube was beginning to be felt by the masses, my girlfriend at the time urged me to put up a video of myself impersonating Tom Cruise. It was crude…no budget…just me and my computer, a few costume changes, and an orange pen cap to play “the goldfish” from Jerry Maguire. Thanks to such infamous events in Cruise’s life- the Oprah couch jumping bit, the Matt Lauer incident, the Scientology rant, and the squirt gun prank (my personal favorite), I suddenly had plenty of material to work with and unbeknownst to me at the time… the beginnings of a fruitful career.
Alas, I turned on Photobooth, did a few takes, and the rest was history. See for yourself:
This particular upload was to commemorate the recent nuptials of TomKat. In celebration, I performed a comprehensive montage of Cruise’s finest performances to date- culminating in my tightey-whitey’s, classic Ray-Bans, and of course the “blinding” white smile.