Tom Cruise: Acting Is Like Fighting in Afghanistan

Rumor: Tom Cruise said that 'being an actor is like serving in Afghanistan.'

Claim:   Tom Cruise said that “being an actor is like serving in Afghanistan.”


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2013]

In an interview Tom Cruise said being an actor is like serving in Afghanistan. True?


Origins:   In October 2012, actor Tom Cruise filed a $50 million libel suit against Life & Style and InTouch magazines in response to those periodicals’ publishing cover stories claiming Cruise had “abandoned” his daughter Suri after he split up with wife Katie

Holmes, Suri’s mother. In September 2013, Cruise sat for a deposition connected with that lawsuit.

On 8 November 2013, the TMZ celebrity gossip site ran a story which characterized Cruise as describing his work as an actor as being “as hard as fighting in Afghanistan.” This bit of TMZ gossip was quickly picked up and widely disseminated, usually accompanied by declarations mocking Cruise for having the hubris to compare acting in films with the real-life sacrifices and hardship of actually serving in a combat zone.

However, TMZ‘s story was based upon only a brief quotation from Cruise’s deposition; the context in which Cruise made the statement was not provided, nor was a full transcript of the deposition provided to readers:

Tom Cruise not only thinks he trains harder than Olympic athletes, he believes his job as a professional actor is as grueling as fighting the war in Afghanistan — this according to legal docs obtained by TMZ.

First, the Middle East — Tom says his location shoots are just like serving a tour in Afghanistan, “That’s what it feels like. And certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal.”


All one can tell from this excerpt is that Cruise described a previous film shoot as “brutal” and in some way supposedly likened it to serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. But it’s difficult to tell just what he meant by that comparison from this brief snippet provided by TMZ, as it doesn’t even quote the portion of Cruise’s statement in which he referenced Afghanistan, nor does it link to a full transcript of the deposition in which Cruise’s comment can be read in context.

Other reporting of this story provided the fuller context that the original reference to Afghanistan was one made by Cruise’s attorney, not Cruise himself, and that it was intended as a comparison of location film shoots and military tours of duty as aspects of occupations requiring participants to be separated from their families for extended periods of time:

Cruise [was] asked about his lawyer’s equating of his absence from Suri to that of a soldier’s absence from his family while fighting in Afghanistan.

“I didn’t hear the Afghanistan [comment], but that’s what it feels like, and certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal,” Cruise [said].


TMZ subsequently modified their article to include the following statement from Tom Cruise’s attorney, which branded TMZ‘s characterization of Cruise’s words as a “distortion”:

Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, says the notion that Tom compares his acting to fighting a war is a distortion, pointing to a section in the deposition — not part of the deposition that was publicly released — in which Tom is asked, “Do you believe the situations [being in a movie and fighting a war in Afghanistan] are the same?” Tom replies, “Oh, come on.” Fields says that clearly means “of course not.”


Last updated:   26 March 2015


    D’Zurilla, Christie.   “Tom Cruise Deposition Gives Peek Behind the Scenes of His Divorce.”

    Los Angeles Times   8 November 2013.

    Heger, Jen.   “Cruise Forced to Defend His ‘Responsibility’ as a Dad in Videotaped Deposition.”

    Radar   7 November 2013.

    The Hollywood Reporter.   “Tom Cruise’s Defamation Lawsuit: 8 Bombshells from His Deposition.”

    8 November 2013.


    8 November 2013.