Tom Cruise Does Big Stunts As A Way To Sell Scientology?

While hosting the Directors Guild of America Awards, comedy director Judd Apatow roasted Tom Cruise, saying his penchant for death-defying stunts is a way to market Scientology.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

tom cruise mission impossible

Tom Cruise is 60 years old, and his career doing heart-stopping movie stunts is still going strong. But what drives Tom Cruise to keep raising the bar and pushing his luck with each new film he makes? As covered by Variety, the answer, according to filmmaker Judd Apatow, is Scientology.

While hosting the Directors Guild of America Awards, Judd Apatow took enough shots at Tom Cruise to make the actor feel like he was in a dogfight. Apatow started with the lowest-hanging fruit, Cruise’s height. “The special effects in ‘Maverick’ were so top notch, I couldn’t even see the stack of phone books Tom Cruise sat on to reach the flight controls,” he said.

The This Is 40 director then turned his criticism of Tom Cruise to the actor’s stunts. He referenced Cruise’s highly publicized appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005, during which Cruise alarmed audiences by jumping up and down on the couch. “[W]e all thought, ‘What a lunatic!’” Apatow said. “And now he rides a motorcycle off a cliff and BASE jumps and we’re all like, ‘Tom’s fine!’”

Apatow derided Tom Cruise for continuing his over-the-top stunts at age 60, calling for Cruise to calm down and use CGI. Then he took a shot at Cruise’s controversial religious beliefs. “But every time he does one of these new stunts, it does feel like an ad for Scientology,” Apatow continued. “I mean, is that in Dianetics? Because there’s nothing about jumping off a cliff in the Torah.”

The jokes became even more personal as Apatow set his sights on Cruise’s personal life. “The only thing he seems to be afraid of is co-parenting and antidepressants,” Apatow said. “Do you think if Tom Cruise took antidepressants, he’d be like, ‘I’m not jumping out of a f***ing cliff. I’m rich!’” Joseph Kaminski, who directed Tom Cruise through some of the actor’s greatest stunts in Top Gun: Maverick, kept a grim expression throughout the set.

Apatow turned his focus away from Tom Cruise and stunts as he poked fun at the Daniels film Everything Everywhere All At Once beating out James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water for a nomination at the awards, made fun of Austin Butler in Elvis, and lamented Steven Spielberg stealing Apatow’s longtime collaborator Seth Rogen for The Fabelmans.

Judd Apatow also spent considerable time making fun of himself. He joked that it was depressing to see not only that his Netflix film The Bubble was less popular than a show called Is It Cake?, but to realize that he actually liked Is It Cake? more than his own movie.

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

While Apatow took shots at Tom Cruise and the actor’s achievements in stunts, others have praised Cruise’s wild antics. Steven Spielberg, who directed Cruise in 2005’s War of the Worlds, told the actor at the Academy Awards Luncheon that Top Gun: Maverick may have saved Hollywood; the film earned nearly $1.5 billion at the box office in 2022.

Tom Cruise will continue showing off his death-defying stunts in this summer’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One, set to release July 14, 2023. He is also scheduled to appear in a sequel to the 2014 action film Edge of Tomorrow, as well as a collaboration with SpaceX that will make Tom Cruise the first movie star to shoot a film in space.

Judd Apatow joked at the DGA Awards that he was at risk of losing his health insurance with the guild. Indeed, Apatow is not set to direct any upcoming films but will continue to produce several projects under his Apatow Productions banner. Apatow is responsible for comedy hits The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Trainwreck, and The King of Staten Island.

At awards shows, no one is safe. Tom Cruise and his mad stunts were just the latest subjects of ridicule on the awards stage, and with the biggest awards show of the season on the way, who knows who may be next? Regardless of what Apatow has to say about it, Tom Cruise and his unique brand of action filmmaking are crowd pleasers, and wins for Maverick at the Academy Awards could very well give Tom Cruise the last laugh.