Matt Lauer’s Shocking Interview With Tom Cruise Is Full of Red Flags We Missed the First Time

With the sexual assault allegations and his recent firing from Today, Matt Lauer can’t stay out of the news. But before his latest scandal, most of us remember him for his countless interviews with celebrities. And there’s one infamous interview we can’t forget.

When Tom Cruise took the stage in 2005, he was promoting his new movie, War of the Worlds. Cruise seemed excited to take the stage and talk about his upcoming film, engagement, and thoughts on Scientology. And now, we see how strange the interview as a whole really was, and all the red flags we missed.

1. Matt Lauer calls his interview with Tom Cruise the most awkward in his career

Matt Lauer interviewing Tom Cruise.

This interview was memorable and cringe-worthy. | Today via YouTube

The interview happened in 2005, but Lauer remembers it well. He told former co-anchor Meredith Vieira that it was the most awkward of his entire career, Us Weekly reports. Within the interview, Cruise seems excited about his engagement to fellow actress Katie Holmes at the time. He also mentions his faith in Scientology, which is where things start to get strange. By the time Cruise calls Lauer “glib” multiple times, everyone felt the tension.

Lauer explains that “you say something and you can see in the person’s eyes a physical change. That was one of those times.” He then goes on to explain it’s “your job almost to get the hell out of the way” once you sense that change taking place.

Next: Things started to go south for Lauer during this part of the interview.

2. The mood shifts once Scientology is part of the conversation

Tom Cruise during his interview with Matt Lauer.

When the topic of scientology came up, things got a little awkward. | Today via YouTube

In the interview, Lauer mentions Katie Holmes is opening herself up to Scientology since she’s been with Cruise, and he asks the actor about it. In response, Cruise says “Scientology is something that you don’t understand,” and then goes on to try and explain it in a very off-putting way.

As we know now, Holmes is no longer a practicing Scientologist. And she was rumored to have some very strange conditions following their divorce, like she couldn’t date someone publicly for five years following the split, explains Radar Online. Now that she’s with Jamie Foxx, she seems much happier.

Next: The body language in the interview was totally bizarre. 

3. Their body language was adversarial throughout

Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

Matt Lauer’s strange body language alluded to feeling uncomfortable. | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

If you think the body language between Cruise and Lauer seemed off, you’re not alone. Tom Cruise clearly has very excited energy from the get-go, but as the interview progresses, he visibly gets more tense. He leans deep into Lauer when they’re discussing psychiatric drugs.

Lauer doesn’t back off, either. At first he seems laid back, but then he starts making larger gestures and leaning back in toward Cruise. Medium notes Lauer’s body language with many of his guests — legs crossed and invading their space — points to narcissistic personality traits we should have noticed before.

Next: Cruise really crossed a line when he said this.

4. Cruise criticized Brooke Shields for her usage of antidepressants

Brooke Shields wearing a red lace gown.

Brooke Shields | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Scientology aside, a huge part of the interview regarded Brooke Shields and her decision to take antidepressants to help with her postpartum depression. Cruise announced that he’s never agreed with psychiatry, even before his belief in Scientology, because he knows “psychiatry is pseudoscience.”

It may have seemed like a harmless comment, but The Journal of Clinical Investigation explains Cruise is spewing harmful and inaccurate statements. After several failed marriages and strange public appearances later, we really should have known better after this interview.

Next: This is what happened when Lauer mentioned the interview to Katie Holmes. 

5. Lauer asked Katie Holmes about the interview later on

Katie Holmes being interviewed by Tom Cruise.

Katie Holmes wasn’t interested in jumping into that memory. | Today via YouTube

It was 11 years later when Lauer approached Katie Holmes about the dreaded Cruise interview. Holmes played the part of a bipolar poet in the movie Touched With Fire. While Lauer and Holmes discussed mental illness in light of her role, the host brought up Cruise’s past thoughts on the issue, Entertainment Tonight says. “You and I both remember a heated discussion I got into on that subject here in this studio,” he started.

Holmes approached the situation delicately and sidestepped the conversation with grace. But it goes to show Lauer isn’t afraid to stir up controversy or manipulate emotions for good TV.

Next: Lauer wasn’t quite finished with the Cruise interview after it took place, either.

6. Lauer later reenacted the interview with a comedian in a strange way

The awkward interview itself wasn’t enough for Lauer, so it seems. The Huffington Post reports radio host Andy Cohen convinced Lauer to reenact the horrible interview as a gag.

In the joke interview, Lauer plays the part of Cruise, and it comes complete with a horrible Cruise-like wig atop Lauer’s balding head. The original interview between the host and the actor is certainly iconic, but is making fun of it, particularly after what Katie Holmes went through for years, in good taste? We’re not sure — but the whole gag interview certainly felt strange.

Next: Here’s how Cruise and Lauer feel about each other now.

7. Lauer says he has a great relationship with Cruise today, which is a red flag in itself

Matt Lauer on the Today show.

They must have something strange in common. | NBC

Despite this odd interview, Lauer says him and Cruise were able to put the uncomfortable interview aside and settle their differences, Us Weekly reports. “Important to note: he and I have a great relationship today,” Lauer says.

Given the strange “marriage rules” Cruise reportedly imposed on his ex-wives, it’s odd Lauer would willingly associate himself with someone like Cruise. Though given the disturbing allegations against Lauer recently, perhaps they’re more alike than we ever thought possible.

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