Cruise Gets Confrontational

Tom Cruise butts heads with Matt Lauer over Scientology during appearance on Today show

By Sarah Hall Jun 24, 2005 7:45 PMTags

Tom Cruise admits he's having a little problem with restraint these days.

The actor, currently on a promotional tour for War of the Worlds, may have toned down his couch-diving act (à la his Oprah appearance, but he still had plenty to say during a Friday appearance on NBC's Today show.

Cruise started off the interview in good spirits, flashing his trademark cheek-straining smile.

"It's just at a great time in my life. I'm really happy. And, you know, I'm engaged. I'm going to be married. I can't restrain myself," the actor enthused.

However, the friendly question-answer session between Cruise and host Matt Lauer quickly escalated into something of a confrontation, with Cruise revisiting the controversy he touched off weeks ago when he suggested that Brooke Shields' use of antidepressants to treat her postpartum depression was "dangerous."

"As far as the Brooke Shields thing, look, you got to understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think, Here's a wonderful and talented woman. And I want to see her do well. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudoscience," Cruise said.

"The thing that I'm saying about Brooke is that there's misinformation, okay. And she doesn't understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn't understand in the same way that you don't understand it, Matt," the actor said.

Lauer and Shields may not get it, but according to Cruise, he, himself, is well-schooled on the topic, thanks, at least in part, to the teachings of the Church of Scientology.

"I've never agreed with psychiatry, ever. Before I was a Scientologist, I never agreed with psychiatry," he informed Lauer. "Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do,"

When asked if there were instances when drugs such as Paxil and Ritalin could be beneficial to the individual to whom they were prescribed, Cruise seemed visibly frustrated.

"Matt. Matt, Matt, you don't even--you're glib," Cruise said to Lauer.

"You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, okay? That's what I've done," the actor said.

"Because I don't talk about things that I don't understand."

Cruise also told Lauer, "Scientology is something that you don't understand."

The actor's remarks drew immediate fire from the American Psychiatric Association. The group, which represents 36,000 mental-health physicians ripped the actor in a statement.

"It is irresponsible for Mr. Cruise to use his movie publicity tour to promote his own ideological views and deter people with mental illness from getting the care they need," APA President Dr. Steven Sharfstein said.

"Rigorous, published, peer-reviewed research clearly demonstrates that [psychiatric] treatment works," the APA statement said. "It is unfortunate that in the face of this remarkable scientific and clinical progress that a small number of individuals and groups persist in questioning its legitimacy."

Cruise's recent round of over-the-top behavior has also inspired an online petition ( urging a boycott of War of the Worlds. So far, about 1,800 have vowed to sit out the would-be blockbuster.

Meanwhile, Cruise did discuss other subjects during his Today interview, such as his latest film project ("I love making movies. And I feel privileged to be able to do that, always") and his passion for new fiancée Katie Holmes ("I can't even describe it").

And on Thursday night, a much jollier Cruise appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where between outbursts of riotous laughter, he referred to Holmes as "astounding," though he declined Letterman's offer to have an on-set judge perform marriage rites on the spot--perhaps because the bride-to-be was absent.

Cruise, who estimated to Letterman that he's known his fiancée for a grand total of "about 10 weeks," proposed to Holmes last week atop the Eiffel Tower. The couple first went ultrapublic with their romance in April, and Holmes has since claimed to be embracing her beau's religion of choice.

Cruise's earlier marriages to Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman both ended in divorce. Holmes was previously engaged to Chris Klein but broke off the relationship in February.