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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 21:44 GMT
Cruise and Cruz at London première
Cruise and Cruz
Cruise and Cruz arrive at London's Leicester Square
Tom Cruise and his girlfriend Penelope Cruz wowed the crowds in London at the UK première of their movie Vanilla Sky.

More than 2,000 fans crowded outside the Empire Leicester Square for a glimpse of one of Hollywood's hottest couples.

The pair chatted with fans and signed autographs, with Cruise even stopping to say hello to people's friends on their mobiles - a trick he started at the London première of Mission: Impossible 2.

Penelope is an enormous talent and I have admired her from her other films

Tom Cruise

"I wanted to spend time out here with people who had waited so long. We were just having fun, calling up peoples' friends and family and leaving messages on their answerphones. It was great," the star said.

The couple met on the set of the Vanilla Sky at a time when Cruise, 39, was petitioning former wife Nicole Kidman for divorce.

He said his romance with the 27-year-old actress did not start until filming stopped.

Personal message

"Penelope is an enormous talent and I have admired her from her other films, but in terms of our personal life, nothing happened on set," he told reporters.

"To be frank, you know, I don't read gossip and so I'm not up on what people are gossiping about. I'm just interested in making great pictures."

And he had a personal message for his new girlfriend.

Cruise and Cruz
The lovers insist their affair started after filming

"I'd like to say thank you to Penelope who originated the character and who was a great inspiration to me on the set. You're extraordinary and thank you for being here with me tonight."

Cruz appeared in the original version of the film, the 1997 Spanish thriller Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes).

In the remake, Cruise - who plays David Aames, a young New York publishing executive - gets into trouble when he ditches his casual girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) for Sofia Serrano, Cruz's character.

The film focuses on the obsessive relationship with Sofia Serrano.

Tom Cruise has said: "It's a very ambitious movie with a lot of different layers. It's a thriller and a love story and a pop culture ride with a lot of questions about life mixed in."

'Personal movie'

The star also described it as a "very personal movie" for director Cameron Crowe.

Crowe himself has commented that the film crew felt protective of Cruise, then under the full glare of the media over his break-up with Nicole Kidman, during the shooting of the film in New York.

"Some days I would worry for Tom but never because of anything he said or did.

"He never missed a day, never had to go and think things over. It sort of deepened his famous work ethic," said the director.

In December the film topped the US box office charts - despite decidedly mixed reviews from US critics.

New York paper Newsday went so far as to say: "All things considered, if you're going to miss one film this year, make it Vanilla Sky."

But others praised the on-screen chemistry of Cruise and Cruz.

Also at Monday's screening were TV presenter Danni Behr, actor Timothy Spall, Vanessa Redgrave and author Salman Rushdie.

The film opens on January 25.

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
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
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood's hardest performances
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