ROME: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ star-studded Italian wedding on Saturday sealed a whirlwind 18-month romance that has been the subject of a whispering campaign from the outset.
The couple were first seen in public together in April 2005 in Rome, where Mission Impossible, Top Gun and Rain Man star Cruise was attending an awards ceremony.
Cruise breathlessly told reporters at the event that Holmes was “an extraordinary woman”, triggering a wave of headlines that culminated with the actor’s famous appearance on the hugely popular Oprah Winfrey show.
During the interview with Winfrey, Cruise - who had always previously kept his private life out of the spotlight - suddenly leaped onto the chat-show host’s couch to profess his undying love for Holmes.
“I’m in love! I’m in love!”, Cruise gushed. “I can’t be cool. I can’t be laid-back. It’s something that has happened, and I feel I want to celebrate it. I want to celebrate her. She’s a very special woman,” he said.
The actor’s antics raised eyebrows across the entertainment industry and made Cruise the butt of jokes for months afterwards. The Historical Dictionary of American Slang even made ‘jumping the couch’ - meaning to go off the deep end in public - its term of 2005.
Yet despite the sniping, Cruise and Holmes, who made her name in the popular Dawson’s Creek television series, were soon to be engaged, with Cruise popping the question to Holmes at the Eiffel Tower in Paris in June. “You know when you connect with someone, and we just have that connection,” Cruise told a press conference.
The fact that the proposal had taken place while the couple were both promoting upcoming movies, however, fuelled conspiracy theories that the romance was a confection dreamed up by Hollywood’s publicity machine.
A People magazine poll revealed that 63 percent of its readers believed the romance was a publicity stunt. Even traditionally high-brow pillars of the US media establishment could not resist weighing into the debate.
“Through all the changes that have swept Hollywood over the years, one thing still endures: strategic love,” a columnist in the New York Times wrote. “The coupling of stars to create ballyhoo for a movie, burnish an actor’s image, create a name or distract attention from other relationships may not be as common as when the movie studios tightly controlled stars’ careers through the 1950s, some publicists and film industry experts assert.
In October last year, the couple confirmed they were expecting their first child, which soon became prime fodder for tabloids. The couple’s baby plans were the subject of constant scrutiny, especially after it emerged that Holmes would give birth in silence under a method promoted by the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise is a devout member.
The church’s founder, writer L. Ron Hubbard, believed that babies, like other people, can subliminally soak up words shouted around them at birth that could come back to negatively influence them later in life.
The couple’s daughter, Suri, was born on April 18. Yet a frustrated media had to wait a full four months before getting a look at the much-anticipated offspring, in a photo-shoot for Vanity Fair magazine.
The picture finally put to rest rumors and speculation about Suri, that in some cases went so far as to doubt the infant’s very existence. In an article accompanying the spread, Holmes angrily decried rumours that her relationship was a sham.
“It’s really frustrating the amount of shit that’s out there. And the stuff they say about Suri? You shouldn’t say that about us, and you can’t say that about my child,” Holmes said.