Hello, and welcome to the latest sporadic installment of ScreenCrush News Investigates™ (literally just made that up on the spot), the series that dares to ask such hard-hitting questions as “Is this Harry Styles in Dunkirk?” and, um ... actually, that’s it so far. Or that was it, until today, when we were inspired to uncover the truth behind one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries: Has Tom Cruise ever actually seen a movie?

UPDATE: We’ve been tipped off to one more movie Tom Cruise has allegedly seen, and we’ve included it — along with the details — in the final count below.

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It all started this afternoon, when this intriguing tweet was brought to my attention:

That excerpt is from an interview with Moviebill, but it’s pretty similar to other interviews Cruise has given — specifically in the declaration, “I love movies.” It’s a simple sentence that’s appeared in numerous interviews with the actor, who typically speaks about his love of cinema in general terms:

  • “Because I love movies…” — CNN, December 2001.
  • “But I love movies.” — CNN, November 2003.
  • “I love movies.” — Blackfilm.com, December 2003.
  • “As much as I love movies…” — CinemaBlend, December 2008.
  • “I love movies!” — The National, January 2009
  • “It was aligned with the things that I love: movies and aviation.” — Entertainment Weekly, May 2016.
  • “I love movies.” — People, June 2017.

You’d be forgiven for believing that maybe this Tom Cruise guy who’s been acting in movies for over four decades, hasn’t actually seen a movie. Maybe he’s like those people who casually say, “I don’t own a television” as if it’s the same thing as not owning a medieval battle axe. To be fair, Tom Cruise in 2018 probably doesn’t have the time — or privacy — to just go see a movie, but did the Tom Cruise of the ’80s and ’90s ever actually see a movie? Why is it that when he’s pressed for specifics, he just says, “I love movies!” Maybe pretending that he’s actually seen a movie, ever, is his greatest performance of all time.

But wait. Maybe Tom Cruise has seen a movie or two. After some extensive research, I’ve come up with enough evidence to suggest that one of the most entertaining and beloved actors of our time has, in fact, seen more than one movie. Or has he? You decide.

JUNE 1999

Tom Cruise speaks with Larry King on CNN about Eyes Wide Shut and claims that he’s seen every Stanley Kubrick movie “many, many times.” Excluding his shorts, Kubrick directed 13 films — including, of course, Eyes Wide Shut, which Cruise also claims to have seen more than once:

Cruise: Oh, he was so pleased. I mean, the last conversation -- well, I saw the movie, Nic and I did, at night twice in a row, once by ourselves the first time, which is -- he had always wanted us to see it alone.

Q: By yourselves, complete, music done, everything.

Cruise: Yes, he wanted us to see it. He couldn't wait to show us the movie. He couldn't wait for just the two of us to sit in a room and see it.

Q: Where did you see it?

Cruise: I saw it in New York, and I wanted to see it in London with him, but the time constraints -- because Nic was in London doing a play, and I had to get on a plane and go to Australia. Nic was in the final stages and she actually ended up having laryngitis. And, you know, we were kind of amazed by -- not "kind of," I was amazed by the movie, and stunned, and felt incredibly proud of the movie, and to have been a part of his picture.

I’ve gotta give Larry King credit here for grilling Cruise on the specifics of how and where he saw Eyes Wide Shut. Later in the interview, Cruise talks about going to movies a lot as a kid. Unfortunately, King drops the ball and it doesn’t get more specific than seeing Friday night “Creature Features.”

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen at this point: 13.

DECEMBER 2001

In an interview on CNN, Larry King asked Cruise if he still gets in line to see movies like a normal person:

KING: You have to create it, though. You have to go -- private planes. Do you -- can you get on line at a movie theater or no?
CRUISE: Yes, I do.
KING: Come on.
CRUISE: Sure. I went and saw Spy Game the other night.
KING: On line? Got on line, paid for the ticket and walked in?
CRUISE: Of course I did.
KING: Take the kids to see Harry Potter?
CRUISE: Yes, I did. Took the kids to see Harry Potter. People come up and say hello, and they’re very nice. But I don’t have a problem with that.

Okay, so if Tom Cruise is to be believed here, he has seen at least two movies: Spy Game, the 2001 thriller starring Brad Pitt and Robert Redford; and at least one Harry Potter movie. Since this was 2001, he probably took the kids to see the first one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As for Spy Game, it’s possible he’s telling a friendly little lie to show public support for Brad Pitt, his co-star from the 1997 film Interview With the Vampire.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen at this point: 15.

NOVEMBER 2003

Cruise appeared on CNN again two years later (man, he really likes that place), where Larry King favorably compared his latest film, The Last Samurai, to Lawrence of Arabia:

CRUISE: Very honored to be -- I remember seeing Lawrence of Arabia in a drive-in when I was...
KING: You’re kidding.
CRUISE: No, no -- 7 years. Must have been a re-release or late runs. It was a drive-in. And it was late. And we -- you know, we used to go to drive-ins as kids. I loved drive-ins. And I remember being on top of my parents’ station wagon. And they set up -- you know, I was there, you know, with the popcorn. You could hardly hear the sound, but I remember seeing the Sahara, going, Oh, my God, you know, what -- you know, I didn’t understand every aspect of that picture, but I remember thinking, I -- was there a time like that? Was there a place like this? Is there a place like this? And it just took me away.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen at this point: 16.

DECEMBER 2003

Cruise sort of repeats that anecdote about Lawrence of Arabia in this interview with Blackfilm.com — although his response here makes it sound like the Sahara was right across the street from the movie theater? We can probably chalk this one up to an error in transcription:

As a kid when I was growing up I remember vividly being at a Drive-in. I was six or seven years old and I was on the roof of my family station wagon and across the screen was the Sahara Dessert. I always wanted to see other places and learn about how other people lived.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen: 16 (still).

AUGUST 2005

Cruise sat down with Steven Spielberg for an interview with German publication Spiegel about War of the Worlds. During that chat, Cruise claims to have seen Jaws:

Cruise: That’s very true. After seeing the film we feared for our lives, even in the bathtub.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen: 17.

JULY 2010

Cruise (or his publicist) answered People magazine’s 20 Questions, which included two movie-related revelations:

5. My first celebrity crush was …

Ingrid Bergman in Notorious.

And:

17. My first date was …

I took a girl to see One on One with Robby Benson, then ice cream at Swensen’s. My mom dropped us off and her mom picked us up.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen: 19.

SEPTEMBER 2012

A Twitter user tipped me off to a THR interview with Paul Thomas Anderson, where the filmmaker revealed that Cruise, who appeared in Anderson’s Magnolia, had seen The Master:

“Yes, I have shown him the film, and yes, we are still friends,” Anderson said. “The rest is between me and Tom.”

Anderson’s film is somewhat based on L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology — of which Cruise is the most famous member.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen: 20

JUNE 2014

Here he is in 2014 on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he claims to watch one movie every single day — though he suspiciously fails to name a single specific movie title:

To be fair, Fallon interrupts Cruise before he can name a movie he’s seen recently.

Total number of movies Tom Cruise has allegedly seen: ???