17 August 2004

It's also instructive to compare Tom Cruise to Arnold Schwarzenegger, another vivid example of an actor for whom the process of self-invention seems to have extended to the shaping of his offscreen life. (A third would have to be Cary Grant, who once said, "I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.") The difference between the two is that Schwarzenegger seems to have always considered acting as a stepping stone to something bigger, whereas for Cruise it is evidently an end in itself. Schwarzenegger lacks Cruise's shrewdness and range, but on the other hand, he seems to have retained an active internal life, which is something that Cruise doesn't have.

Even more illuminating is the case of Marlon Brando, who also could have been the Perfect Human, but grew fat, it has been suggested, out of contempt for Hollywood and its ideals of perfection. Brando in his prime was more beautiful than Cruise ever was, but it's arguably in the later, monstrously obese Brando, forcing us to love him for his talent alone, that we get a glimpse of a higher level of humanity.

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