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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January 2004, 14:46 GMT
Cruise indulges autograph frenzy
Chris Heard
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Actor Tom Cruise spent two hours meeting and greeting ecstatic fans at the UK première of The Last Samurai in central London on Tuesday.

As the actor scribbled his hundredth autograph and posed uncomplainingly for yet another photo, his hordes of admirers were unanimous - Cruise is one of Hollywood's good guys.

Tom Cruise moves among the autograph hunters
Tom Cruise was all smiles as he spoke into fans' mobiles
"He's just so genuine," was the consensus among the 5,000 fans thronging Leicester Square as Cruise spent the best part of two hours chatting and signing their pictures.

This observation was trailed closely by: "Ooh... Isn't he short?" And alternatively: "He's not that short, is he?"

Did you meet Tom Cruise or receive a phone call from him?

Short or otherwise, genuine or merely incomparably PR-savvy, Cruise knows how to work a crowd like few other showbiz A-listers.

That Tom Cruise - what a nice bloke!

He has effectively cornered the market in the extended walkabout, displaying a stamina and a chutzpah that politicians and minor royals can only watch and weep with envy.

Tom Cruise signature
The famous Cruise autograph, signed for BBC News Online
Closely accompanied by his female publicist and two discreet security men, he performed what has become his customary red carpet marathon outside The Odeon cinema.

It lasted almost as long as his new Japanese war epic, The Last Samurai, which was getting its first British showing for an exclusive crowd inside.

Did you witness this event unfolding? Did you take any pictures? Send them to us

Cruise arrived shortly before 1800 and began his tour as his girlfriend Penelope Cruz, dressed in a stunning red Valentino dress, did likewise for 15 minutes before disappearing into the cinema.

The actor, in dark suit, polo neck and stubble, spoke to stunned fans on their partners' and friends' mobile phones and snuggled up for group photos.

He went up to Jitty and Rhafia Bucoy, both 29, waiting with their two-month-old daughter Arabella, and complimented them on their "beautiful" baby.

Rhafia, a nurse at a south London hospital, said: "He asked me how old our baby was and whether it was our first. He congratulated us and said he was sure we would be having sleepless nights. He's so nice!"

Cruise also spoke to a delighted Roni Steiner, 26, at her home in Israel, via husband Efi's mobile.

"I was just thrilled," she said. "I couldn't believe it, it was such a surprise and a shock. I've loved him since I was a young girl."

It was the same story for Julie O' Connor's sister, Jackie, 34, who took a call at her home in Wolverhampton from Julie's mobile.

Tom Cruise

"She was gobsmacked," said Julie. "He said, 'hello Jackie, how are you, have you had a nice day, happy new year!'"

Gavin Todd, nine, had a red carpet encounter with the star after being hauled over the barriers at Cruise's request.

"He said to me, 'how are you, did you get squashed, are you OK?'" said the shell-shocked youngster.

Cruise chatted to Gavin's mother Karen about the film, saying he enjoyed working with Billy Connolly, and telling her the script for Mission Impossible III had not been finalised.

Marta Ziba, 25, on her first visit to London from Albania, also experienced the Cruise magic first-hand as he signed her piece of paper.

"I was just so happy," she said. "He shook hands and was very friendly."

Amid the pandemonium of the security barriers and screaming, the star also managed a brief word with BBC News Online.

"It's great, wonderful," he said of the rapturous greeting he had received from his British fans.

"The welcome is beautiful," he added, nodding slowly to emphasise the words.

Close up, his charisma is evident and, yes, the smiles do seem genuine as he does his rounds, signing his name with a flourish using his own black marker.

Two hours later and - was it just me, or were his crew looking a little relieved as Tom - finally - paced energetically into the Odeon?

An epic journey - and that was before the opening credits had even rolled.

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Did you meet Tom Cruise at the première? Did he leave a message for you on your mobile or your home answering machine?

Let us know.

My mother and I went to meet Tom (courtesy of BBC LDN news as we were due to be interviewed with Tom). I had previously met and spoken to Tom at the Mission Impossible 2 premiere back in 2000 when I was 15, I was the first ever to have the idea to call my Mum and let Tom speak to her right there while she was at home, I think I started a trend because now he's talking to everybody on their mobiles! It's brilliant! The first time I met him he was adorable and genuinely polite and dedicated to his fans - he told my mum she'd done a great job in bringing me up because I was gorgeous and perfect (I kept thinking "no YOU are!")

Last night he was no different, he was charming, this time he got to speak to my mother in person and he said he actually remembered that time he spoke to her! Even though he was pushed for time (as his minders kept reminding him) he stayed to chat to us, sign my mother's Tom Cruise book and take pictures with us. He never stops smiling, he is a truly great people's person and we hope he gets a well-deserved Oscar this time around!
Pamela and Tina Sakyi, London UK

Me, my sister and my friend travelled up to the premiere arriving at 1pm where there were already about 50 other people there, we waited and got a superb place when the time came.

Tom was incredibly nice, arriving early and did literally spend a few hours signing autos and talking to people. He was friendly with all of them and signed about 4 items for me and I said "Do you mind?" and he said "Are you kidding me! I love it!" and asked him to sign a big poster and he said "Ok mate".

I hope he continues to dedicate time to his UK fans as everyone over here agrees he is brilliant to people who go to his premieres! His girlfriend was literally in the cinema 15 minutes after arriving, signing very few autographs (luckily I got one) and then had her picture taken. He had four people around, one person even who would take photos of anyone who asked with Mr Cruise. A great night! Thanks Tom.
Seth Mason, W.Sussex

He Is a very nice guy, he chatted to me for about 30 seconds
Kash Mahatma, London UK

I love Tom Cruise. I waited for him for 7 hours yesterday and it would have been worth it just to be in the same place as him. As it was, I actually got to lay eyes on him and nearly even spoke to him. He is the ultimate cooool dude!!!
Najeeb Khan, London, UK

I met Tom Cruise after waiting for him for almost 5 hours. I did get the autograph as well which I will frame. He posed for me and my girlfriend, Yae-lim and let me tell you she almost fainted. We were so thrilled and happy that having waited so long, he didn't let us down. I called mum on the mobile and he wanted to talk to her as well but unfortunately she doesn't understand English so well, so it was a bit of comedy. All in all, the wait was thoroughly worth it and I think Tom is the best!
Byung-moon Cho, Surrey, UK

If I'd known he was going to be so receptive to his fans I would've brought my Top Gun poster for him to sign! I had to "make do" with getting my arm signed instead.

I already thought he was an engaging, affable character on screen but his 2 hour service to the fans totally blew me away. What a star - in every sense of the word.
Darren Coleman, Westbury, UK

We camped out since Sunday to see the man. Finally he came round and spoke to us for at least 15 seconds. During that time, Mr Cruise squuezed my left index finger between his thumb and forefinger (right hand) before delicately caressing my friend's earlobe, stealing a quick peck on the cheek and winking discreetly (left eye). What a gent!
Alex and Anna, Cambridge UK

If you want to be popular, then be nice to the public!! This guy knows how to work the crowd and use the media. Simple as that. He has no reason, or need, to care about anyone but if he comes over like he does.... well then the PR exercise has worked. He looked genuine?? Well DUH!! He IS an actor!!

Cruise certainly knows how to work a crowd. I was in Leicester Square in 2000 when he did his Mission Impossible II walkabout, and it was refreshing to see him stroll around chatting to his fans without an army of security people surrounding him. Russell Crowe was walking around with him, although I didn't recognise him back then (it was before Gladiator and The Insider made him nearly as big a star as Cruise is today).
Yvonne Joyce, Taunton, UK

Beautiful eyes, amazing white smile, wonderful personality... I'm glad he's short or I'd really hate him!
Nigel Smith, Reading

I waited for three hours and he just walked straight past me. I don't know if it is because I am over 6 feet tall but he just really didn't want to come near me. It won't put me off his films though.
Robyn Malinowski, Edinburgh, Scotland

I met him at the premiere of The Last Samurai. He's fantastic! I waited there from 2:30pm and managed to get his autograph. I have been to his premiere of "Mission Impossible 2" and "Minority Report" , but unfortunately I didn't get his autograph as I was quite far behind. He's a great star and dedicated to his fans, signing for almost 2 hours. I envy him!
Mahmud Chowdhury, East London

He is a very nice person - when my husband told him that my baby was there, he approached to have a peep, then he asked me how old was my baby and if it was a boy or a girl? He even asked if we are ok and if we are not being squashed by the crowd. He asked if it was our first and he congratulated my husband saying that's great and saying that we are sure to have sleepless nights and he said to us you have a beautiful baby.

We can't believe that he would talk to us like that personally, he is a down to earth person and just meeting my two-month-old baby means a lot and being concerned about her safety with surrounding crowd is such a humane gesture. I would like to thank Tom Cruise for being so nice. All the best for him.
Jitty, Rhafia and Arabella Bucoy, Camberwell, London (originally from the Philippines and USA)

I got a message from him on my answerphone then the thing self- destructed...
Rich, UK

Oh my God! He was so charming. He took time to talk to as many people as possible and even held my hand tightly in his while he signed an autograph for me! I wanted to utter the immortal "Take me to bed or lose me forever!" effort but thought Penelope might have something to say about it...
Zoe, Hitchin, UK

He came right up to me and planted a huge kiss on my best friend!
Andrew, London

All that signing and he still wouldn't sign a cheque over to me!
Jeff Stevens, London

I travelled overnight to meet him and he chatted to me for twenty seconds, which seemed like an hour! What a star. He even talked to my brother Troy on my mobile. Unreal.
Jim Steele, Glasgow

Arrived at Leicester Square at 2pm and ended up in the position we wanted. It was a great atmosphere and we were pleased to meet Tom and he signed for us and posed for a photo. He asked me if I was okay as I was getting squashed. It is a pity other Hollywood celebs don't do as much to please their fans as he always does. A true star.
Sam, Purfleet, Essex

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The BBC's David Sillito
"Hundreds and hundreds of people can now say they've met Tom Cruise"

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28 Aug 03 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Cruise and Cruz charm London
07 Jan 04 |  Photo Gallery


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