Tom Cruise was ‘nervous’ meeting Paul Newman for the first time

Tom Cruise has admitted he felt ‘nervous’ as a young actor when he first met Paul Newman.

The Mission: Impossible and Top Gun: Maverick star had auditioned for Newman’s film Harry & Son (1984). The role in question was that of Harry’s (Newman) son, Howard Keach – but Cruise ultimately missed out.

Despite Newman being “interested” in Cruise’s “point of view”, the role eventually went to Robby Benson.

Cruise said: “I auditioned for Harry & Son mostly because I wanted to meet Paul. I was nervous. Starting out as a young actor, you want people to like you, you want people to like your work, you want to be accepted.”

He added: “Taps had come out and I think Risky Business. I walked into the office. There’s Joanne [Woodward] knitting, and Newman with a chain around his neck with a beer can opener on it. He was wearing an off-white sweater and jeans.

“He said, ‘Hey, killer. How’s it going?’ Very excited to see an actor coming in, very relaxed.”

The Hollywood actor’s thoughts on Newman are being published posthumously in Newman’s memoir, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, which will be released on 27 October.

Cruise, who was “really impressed” by the way Newman worked, said: “You think someone’s one way and all of a sudden you meet him and see he can still be excited just by two actors doing a scene.”

Newman’s memoir was discovered by his family in a basement, and is now due to be published 14 years after his death in 2008.

The actor had commissioned his best friend to interview people he worked with, along with his friends, his children, his first wife, his psychiatrist, and Woodward, to create an oral history of his life.

In the memoir, Newman talks candidly about his traumatic childhood, his lack of success with women, his films, and his relationship with Joanne Woodward. The book includes reflections from his family and friends, as well as other stars and directors including Elia Kazan.

Cruise went on to star with Newman in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money (1986) as pool hustler Vincent Lauria, who Eddie “Fast Eddie” Felson (Newman) takes under his wing.