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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 12:01 GMT
Cruise greets Taiwan fans
Tom Cruise greets fans at the Taipei premiere of Vanilla Sky
Tom Cruise got a lot of attention in Taiwan
By Michael Bristow in Taipei

Several thousand screaming fans greeted Hollywood star Tom Cruise when he arrived at the Taiwan premiere of his new film Vanilla Sky.

Fans of all ages, and both sexes, pushed and shoved to get a glimpse of their hero when he turned up for the film screening on Sunday with his Spanish co-star - and girlfriend - Penelope Cruz.

He's just so handsome - and very cute

Karen Huang, 25
At one point, security guards had to be brought in to hold up a barrier that separated the stars from their adoring fans when the crush threatened to bring it down.

And Cruise and Cruz spent so long signing autographs that they had no time to watch the film.

They had planned to spend just 30 minutes with the crowd and then watch at least some of the movie, but Cruise, wearing a brown suit and pink shirt, spent an hour-and-a-half on the red carpet satisfying his audience.

Cruise fans

After meeting their fans, they were whisked straight to the airport where two private jets were waiting to take them to their next stop.

Tom Cruise laughing with fans at the Taipei premiere of Vanilla Sky
The US actor spent longer than planned with the fans
The two stars were in Taiwan with the director of Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe, as part of a four-stop tour of Asia to promote the new film.

They had first visited Japan and South Korea and the final premiere is in Singapore on Tuesday.

Karen Huang was just one dedicated Cruise follower who made it to the Taipei premiere.

"He's just so handsome - and very cute," said the 25-year-old.

Male fans were also impressed to see the 39-year-old actor. Zhang Jun-hao, 17, said he was "really happy" to see superstar Cruise.

"He is very handsome," he said. "I like his films just a little bit, but I like him very much."

On Saturday evening, Taiwanese fans had waited patiently at the airport for the late arrival of the film stars. They had also camped outside the visitors' hotel in the hope of getting an autograph when they checked in.

The Taiwanese media was as enthusiastic about Cruise and Cruz as the fans. A press conference held a few hours before the premiere turned into a "Tom Cruise Fan Club" event.

At the conference, the leading man signed autographs, flirted with journalists and, at one point, even broke into song. Penelope Cruz and Cameron Crowe had very few questions to field.

Penelope Cruz did answer one question about her working relationship with Cruise, saying: "He is a very energetic and friendly person, just the way he is now, bringing fun and good vibes."

Avoiding questions

Despite Cruise's showmanship, he was coy about his relationship with his co-star, who he met and fell in love with on the set of Vanilla Sky.

Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise at the Tokyo premiere of Vanilla Sky
The Hollywood couple met on the set of Vanilla Sky
When asked about it, Cruise, who is 12 years older than his girlfriend, would only reply: "That's a personal question."

In the January edition of Vanity Fair he was a little more open, telling the magazine: "As a person and on film, she invites you in, and she's incredibly romantic and yet real, you know.

"You look at Audrey Hepburn. She had that kind of elegance."

At the Taiwan premiere, the couple met their fans separately, though they did manage to snatch a tender hug backstage just before leaving.

The film itself is about rich New Yorker David Aames, played by Cruise, who lives a carefree life before falling in love with Sofia Serrano, played by Cruz. But his life starts to unravel when a car crash leaves his face disfigured.

Judging by his reception in Taiwan, if anything like that ever happened to Cruise in real life, thousands of Asian fans would be left broken-hearted.

See also:

17 Dec 01 | Film
Tom cruises to top of US chart
04 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Cruise speaks out on Cruz
08 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Kidman and Cruise divorce
08 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Kidman and Cruise keep distance
17 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Cruise and Cruz 'dating'
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cruise and Kidman: In pictures
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cruise and Kidman: Broken dream
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