Welcome to another installment of ScreenCrush News Investigates. In our most recent investigation, we tried to find out if Tom Cruise has ever actually seen a movie — spoiler: he has seen at least 20 that we can verify. It’s been less than 24 hours since we published our findings, and while new tips continue to come in every hour, we’re already back on the Tom Cruise beat. The latest questionable revelation from the life of the Mission: Impossible star comes courtesy of filmmaker and producer Judd Apatow, who made a rather bold claim about Mr. Cruise on late night television.

During an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Mr. Apatow shared a humorous anecdote about a meeting he allegedly had with Mr. Cruise in 2006. According to Mr. Apatow, actor and fellow producer Seth Rogen was also present for the meeting, where the three men discussed collaborating on a potential romantic comedy project. Mr. Apatow described a moment during the meeting when, for reasons he cannot recall, the conversation turned to the subject of internet pornography. To the surprise of both Mr. Apatow and Mr. Rogen, Mr. Cruise allegedly expressed surprise at the mere concept of adult films being readily available to watch on the internet:

Here is Mr. Apatow’s exact quote:

So we’re talking to him and I don’t know how it came up, but it usually comes up with Seth where he starts talking about marijuana and pornography. And he starts talking about watching adult films on the internet and Tom Cruise goes, ‘What? Wait, you’re saying that there are adult films on the internet?’ And Seth is like, ‘Yeah, there’s all these movies on these websites.’ And Tom Cruise is like, ‘Wait a second, you’re saying if I go on the computer, on the worldwide web, there are people having sex on this [information super] highway?’

Mr. Apatow went on to say that he wasn’t certain if Mr. Cruise was genuinely clueless, or if he was “being very polite.” The filmmaker posits that “[Cruise] was against it and being polite,” suggesting that perhaps Mr. Cruise was aware of (and possibly despises) internet pornography but merely feigning cluelessness to avoid discussion. Mr. Apatow ends the anecdote by saying, “We’ll never know.”

But what if… we could know?

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you Exhibit A — it’s my only exhibit, really, but I think it will help clear up any confusion about Tom Cruise’s acquaintance with internet pornography. After all, it’s difficult to imagine that a grown adult man living a post-dial-up world would have no idea that one can easily watch adult films on the internet. It’s similarly hard to believe that said adult man, who has appeared in a psycho-sexual thriller directed by the late Stanley Kubrick, would be unaware of the availability of these digital materials.

During our previous investigation into Tom Cruise’s film habits, we uncovered the transcripts from a 2001 interview with Larry King on CNN. In that interview, Mr. King asks Mr. Cruise if he feels that his participation in violent action films has contributed in some way to real-world violence. The conversation continues as follows (emphasis mine):

CRUISE: I am not someone who feels that films are responsible for an individual’s condition, that people are responsible for their own condition and how they behave. And, you know — and I think that it’s up to the parent to be responsible and, you know,…


KING: What they take their children to see.


CRUISE: What they take their children to see. You know, that’s why you look at the news that’s on television, you look at the stuff that’s in newspapers, you know. And I — you know — I mean, Nic and I are very concerned about, you know, what the kids watch, what movies they watch.


And you look at the Internet, the pornography and all that kind of stuff that’s accessible on the Internet. Kids are still getting — you know, they still — that’s still available to them. And I think that, you know, also, I make movies, and so I’m very aware of what I let the children watch and what I let them see.

As you can see, it’s clear that Mr. Cruise was aware of the existence and prevalence of internet pornography, and that knowledge pre-dates his alleged meeting with Mr. Apatow by five years.

Of course, there are many theories to justify Mr. Apatow’s anecdote: First, that Mr. Cruise was, as the filmmaker suggested, merely feigning ignorance to be polite. Theory #2: While meeting with a pair of men renowned for their comedic talents, Mr. Cruise was inspired to attempt what is known as a “joke.” As an actor best known for performing life-endangering stunts (arguably hilarious in their own right, though not intentionally so), comedy is not exactly his forte.

The third theory is that Mr. Cruise lied in his 2001 interview with Larry King; that his answers were fed to him, via a subtle earpiece, by a publicist. And the fourth and final theory is that Mr. Apatow was either confused about when he met with Mr. Cruise, or that he made the entire anecdote up to entertain Mr. Colbert. As Nathan Fielder has proven on his brilliant series Nathan for You, it’s exceedingly easy to falsify a humorous anecdote for late night television. Watch Mr. Fielder explain how he pulled it off during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers: