Working With Tom Cruise On Knight And Day Taught Paul Dano An Important Lesson About Stunt Acting

Tom Cruise has had a fascinating career full of highs and lows. Arguably the biggest movie star working today, Cruise has collaborated with some of the biggest auteurs in Hollywood and always finds new ways to put his life on the line for our entertainment. And yet, Cruise has also made more than his fair share of odd films and played his fair share of weird characters. Do we even get Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick" without Tom Cruise in "The Mummy" or Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages," stumbling and finding himself with something to prove? While movies like "Tropic Thunder" are usually the first to come to mind when discussing Tom Cruise's weirder and more comedic roles, there is another movie from those years that isn't talked about that often, but very much deserves the spotlight: 2010's "Knight and Day."

"Knight and Day" is a spy movie that dares to ask, what if a "Bond girl" actually realized what a weirdo James Bond is and refused to go anywhere with him for most of the movie? The result is a fantastic, thrilling, and hilarious movie where Cameron Diaz acts terrified of Tom Cruise getting into increasingly dangerous situations while he's totally into the madness surrounding him. The film was directed by James Mangold right before he sent Hugh Jackman to Japan in "The Wolverine" and gave us one the best comic book movies of the past decade in "Logan." 

Also involved in "Knight and Day" is a young Paul Dano right off his role in "There Will Be Blood." Dano plays Simon Feck, an inventor who creates a perpetual energy battery that a rogue CIA agent wants to steal. And the actor learned a thing or two from working with Cruise. 

Learning from the Cruise

Speaking to GQ about his most noteworthy characters, Dano spoke of the time he saw Tom Cruise working with the stunt team. "I remember seeing how he considered the audience, and the impact of the stunts on the audience, and how passionate and rigorous he was about that." For Dano, that was a real lesson, how his performance went beyond himself and how he considered those who would watch the film: 

"I had not been around that before. I had not seen an actor consider the audience and the impact of how the stunt and the cut of the camera would feel for the audience. And I took that with me."

Dano took the lesson with him as he transitioned into directing as well: "One of my favorite DPs I worked with is Roger Deakins, because his crew is so quiet, there's like — and it brings a focus, and I really appreciate that. And I know when I was directing I wanted it to feel like when my actors step on set, everything changes."