There are precious few Hollywood stars who can claim to be more famous than Tom Cruise. Yes, Forbes may rate Johnny Depp as richer, while Jack Nicholson may have picked up more Oscar nominations (12 to Cruise’s three), but in terms of sheer high-street recognisability, few actors can beat our favourite Scientologist. From his ’80s name-makers Top Gun (1986) and Cocktail (1988), via credibility-builders Rain Man (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Jerry Maguire (1996) to latter-day action smashes Minority Report (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005), there are not many people from the Western world who can honestly claim they have never seen Cruise on screen.
The superstar’s longest-running and arguably best-known role is espionage expert Ethan Hunt from the Mission: Impossible franchise. The world premiere of the saga’s fourth instalment will see Cruise walking down the red carpet at Dubai’s Madinat Arena on December 8, launching the eighth Dubai International Film Festival. It’s a huge coup for the festival, which fended off competition from other cities that appear in the film, including Prague, Moscow, Mumbai, and Vancouver, for the privilege of hosting the premiere.
We at Time Out like to think there was something about Dubai that seduced the star. His death-defying exploits on the Burj Khalifa (no stunt doubles for Mr Cruise) made international headlines during filming last November, with Cruise daringly scaling the world’s tallest building. Other key scenes were filmed in diverse Dubai locations including DIFC, Satwa, Meydan and the Palm Jumeirah. The American star must have enjoyed his stay: newspaper reports told how on a rest day, the 49-year-old booked out the kart track at Dubai Autodrome for 75 cast and crew members, competing against co-stars Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg, before dining at Fatburger on Jumeriah Beach Road. And the name he booked under? Cole Trickle, the racing driver from his early motorsport drama Days of Thunder.
Yet while Mission: Impossible is the most high-profile celluloid tribute to our city to date, Dubai has still clocked up plenty of supporting appearances on the silver screen. Get your finger poised on that pause button and let us jog your memory.