AUCKLAND: From on-screen Samurai fighter to
real-life good Samaritan, Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise (pictured right) has
impressed locals in New Zealand's remote North Island province of Taranaki where
he has been filming since January.
While working on the
big budget Warner Bros epic "The Last Samurai", due to wrap up mid-April, Cruise
has become celebrated for his down-to-earth habits, like eating fish and chips
in newspaper from the local takeaway and catching the surf at nearby beaches.
And all without a paparazzi lens or mob of breathless fans in
Then there have been his good deeds.
Far from mainstream cinematic gossip of sex scandals, diet
fads, drug abuse and more among the stars, Cruise has become famous in Taranaki
for stopping to help a local family change a flat tyre on a country road. He
also helped a young girl catch her runaway horse and donated seven thousand New
Zealand dollars (about RM14,560) to a tiny, rural school near his film set for a
sun shelter under which pupils can play.
While he has rarely been seen in public - unlike his
gregarious Scottish co-star Billy Connelly - Cruise
has earned a reputation for being a genuinely nice guy.
Indeed, his niceness was a big theme during an unscheduled, 20-minute
chat with two presenters on the local radio station, The Edge.
"Do you ever get sick of being so nice all the time?" cooed
young JJ. "Because you really are a nice person and people always say such nice
things about you when they've met you..."
"It's just who I am," replied Cruise. "I enjoy people and
listen. I'm very fortunate, the life that I have. It was a dream of mine and
it's something I enjoy. "I just enjoy life, enjoy my
work, enjoy my family and everything, so it's just who I am..."
During the nearly four-month shoot at eight different
locations, Cruise's wish - expressed during his only press conference in January
- that he and his visiting children Connor, 8, and Isabella, 10, his parents and
girlfriend Penelope Cruz be left in peace has been respected, said a local
Reporting on the film for the Daily News, journalist Rochelle
West says New Plymouth - a town of 45,000 people - has been buzzing with
excitement ever since the film crew and stars arrived in January.
As was expected, Cruise has "kept very much to himself."
He commutes by helicopter to film sets around the province
from his rented rural mansion near the seaside hamlet of Oakura, about 15
minutes' drive from New Plymouth, offering locals few chances to encounter the
However one New Plymouth woman received a rare invitation to a
"The Last Samurai" set after she caught the attention of key film crew by
regularly stripping down to her bra and knickers whilst waving madly at passing
But the monthly community rag, The Oakura Messenger - which
coincidentally relaunched in January bearing its initials TOM, hasn't been able
to come up with any Cruise scoops, despite being literally down the road from
"The community has understood his wish to be left alone.
There's been no threat to him and that's nice," said editor Tracy Lusk. She sent
TOM T-shirts to his home with a note requesting an interview but has had no
reply so far.
While he has maintained a low profile in Taranaki, a bungy
jump with his children off Auckland's central city Sky
Tower last month grabbed the headlines.
It seems you have to at least be the prime minister to get up
close and personal with the star. Prime
Minister Helen Clark spent a day' with Cruise and his family
on the film set, afterwards describing. Hollywood's highest paid actor as a
"very attractive young man."
"He's very nice," she said. - AFP