The Batman Star Says Tom Cruise’s Worst Movie Changed Filmmaking For Him

Paul Dano who portrayed the Riddler in The Batman worked with Tom Cruise on Knight and Day where he took knowledge from the actor's playbook that he uses while acting and directing today.

By Mark McKee | Published

Paul Dano changed the fabric of the Batman mythos earlier this year with his dark portrayal of Edward Nigman, AKA The Riddler, in Matt Reeves’ reimagining of the Dark Knight in The Batman. While the world has seen Paul Dano in many projects over the past couple of decades, like The SopranosLittle Miss Sunshine, and There Will Be Blood, Dano’s expert portrayal is only partly due to learning from the likes of Steve Carrell and Daniel Day-Lewis. According to IndieWire, in an interview with GQ, Dano reveals that his time with Tom Cruise on the set of Knight and Day in 2010 changed the way he looked at filmmaking and made him the actor, and the director, that he is today. 

In the interview, Dano talks about his time on the set of Knight and Day, when he witnessed Tom Cruise enter the scene and considered how his stunt performance would impact the audience. When speaking with GQ, he admitted that he took that lesson with him, Paul Dano had never seen an actor consider the audience with stunts, and he took that along with him when he moved on to eventually become a director himself. Dano isn’t the only actor who has worked with Cruise and was blown away by the insanity of his death-defying stunt work; after four Mission: Impossible films, Simon Pegg commends him for his fearless commitment. 

Tom Cruise
Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise in Knight and Day

Knight and Day is a 2010 action comedy directed by James Mangold, who has become one of the best directors in the industry; responsible for IdentityWalk the LineLogan, Ford v. Ferrari, and is set as the director of Indiana Jones 5. The film sees Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) as he goes on the run from the government as a rogue spy and enlists the help of a vintage car restorer, June Havens, played by Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary and Charlie’s Angels) to find Simon Feck (Dano), a brilliant inventor. The film is written by Patrick O’Neil (Say Anything and Grosse Point Blank) and also stars Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern and The Batman), Viola Davis (The Woman King and Suicide Squad), and Maggie Grace (Taken and Lost). 

Tom Cruise may have begun his career as a versatile actor focused on building a vast resume that included everything from Top Gun and Risky Business to A Few Good Men and Interview with a Vampire. There was a shift in his career during his hunt for an Academy Award with roles in more profound movies like Eyes Wide ShutMagnoliaVanilla Sky, and The Last Samurai. In recent years he has become a full-fledged action star with his role as Ethan Hunt in all six Mission: Impossible movies, Jack ReacherOblivion, and The Mummy. Those films have inspired him to do some of the craziest stunts in Hollywood history, including hanging off the side of an airplane, riding a motorcycle off a cliff, a zero-gravity jaunt in a crashing plane, and scaling the side of a building. 

Of course, many actors are inspired by Tom Cruise and his work; the industry hasn’t been the same since he began jumping off buildings. Among the many wonderful performances Cruise has given us over his career, we now know that we can also thank him for the wonderful Riddler performance of Paul Dano. Maybe in his next Batman appearance, he will also be inspired by doing his stunts, just like Cruise.