Hollywood Flashback: 15 Years Ago, Tom Cruise Clashed With Matt Lauer on 'Today'

NBC/Photofest
Matt Lauer (left) and Tom Cruise faced off on 'Today' on June 24, 2005.

While a notorious showdown took place with Lauer on NBC's morning show ('Matt. Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt. You're glib"), in truth, the whole monthlong press tour for 'War of the Worlds' could have benefited from a do-over.

As anniversaries go, June 24, 2005, is probably one Tom Cruise would rather forget. That was the date of his notorious showdown with Matt Lauer on Today — but in truth, the whole monthlong press tour for the Cruise/Steven Spielberg blockbuster War of the Worlds could have benefited from a do-over.

The problems began in late 2004, when the megastar fired his longtime press agent, Pat Kingsley, and replaced her with his sister Lee Anne De Vette. "He had never been to my office before," Kingsley later told THR. "[After] a few minutes of chitchat … he said, 'I want you to know I've decided to make a change.' " By April 2005, the twice-divorced Cruise, then 42, went very public with his new relationship with Katie Holmes, then 26. The couple made out in front of paparazzi in Rome on April 27; then, on a May 23 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Cruise declared his love in his infamous "couch-jumping" incident. (Winfrey later waved off his "delightful exuberance" and called the mocking coverage "really unfair.") But the worst was still to come.

On June 1, Brooke Shields lashed out at Cruise, who on Access Hollywood had called her "irresponsible" for using antidepressants to treat postpartum depression. (The two had known each other since working together on 1981's Endless Love.) And at the June 19 premiere of Worlds in London, Cruise was sprayed with water by a trick microphone, the work of a British prank show called Balls of Steel. So by June 24, he was a bit defensive when he sat down with Lauer (with Holmes nearby off-camera). Lauer devoted a few minutes to the film before diving into his relationship with Holmes (noting many felt it was a publicity stunt), then Scientology and ultimately the Shields dust-up. "Matt. Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt. You're glib," said Cruise, defending Scientology's anti-psychiatry stance. "You don't even know what Ritalin is."

Cruise later apologized in person to Shields and even invited her to his fairy-tale wedding to Holmes in Italy, which she attended, on Nov. 18, 2006. The couple divorced in 2012. 

This story first appeared in the June 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.