The statistics on arranged marriage are surprising. In every country where it is still common practice, including Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Iran and, to a lesser extent, Japan, an arranged marriage has a higher success rate than a so-called “love marriage.”
It's impossible to say what this augurs for Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Of course, theirs isn't an arranged marriage—though it was certainly arranged quickly. The awesomely public couple had all of six weeks, during much of which Holmes was on the Batman Begins junket, to decide that they loved each other, that they wanted to spend their lives together and that they would buck Hollywood convention, to say nothing of common sense, and sing their joy from the mountaintops (or from flashbulb-blitzed press conferences, red carpets and vastly popular TV talk shows). Arranged marriages are measured, often solemn affairs; the fist-pumping pomp of the Cruise-Holmes union is another story. And the more times Holmes tells it, the stranger it sounds.
“I've found the man of my dreams,” says the 26-year-old actress, sitting in a bathrobe as a manicurist paints her nails the color of kryptonite and a stylist teases her hair into wavelets in preparation for her W photo shoot. It's 8 a.m., and Holmes looks astonishingly fresh for a woman who taped several television shows the previous day before heading back to Cruise's New York apartment, putting on her sweatpants and UGG slippers, and settling in for a late movie with her sweetheart. “From the moment I met him,” she continues, “it just felt like I'd known him forever. I was blown away. He's the most incredible man. He's so generous and kind, and he helps so many people, and, um, he makes me laugh like I've never laughed, and he's a great friend.…”
This is how the conversation begins; this is also how it continues, and how it ends. No question can do much to change its course.
Do you worry that this might be a rebound romance for either of you?
“I've never met anyone like Tom,” Holmes replies, her beautiful green eyes focused on nothing in particular.
Do you ever wonder whether this is just a honeymoon phase?
“Tom and I will always be in our honeymoon phase.”
Did you learn anything in your previous relationship (five years with actor Chris Klein, which came to an end when they called off their engagement this past winter) that has been a benefit to this one?
“Chris and I care about each other and we're still friends. Tom is the most incredible man in the world.”
Do you feel that, with more relationship experience, you get better at resolving conflicts?
“Meeting Tom—I'm just exhilarated. He makes me laugh, we have fun, we understand each other, everything is so aligned. I feel so lucky and so—like I've been given such a gift, such a gift, you know?” She pauses. “And it's just really amazing.”
If Holmes were actually answering the questions posed—rather than simply reciting the same mantralike love letter—she'd be making a somewhat provocative point: Her relationship is not like other relationships, with their conflicts, compromises and complications; there will be no apology flowers, nights spent on the couch or couples therapy for these two (as a practicing Scientologist, Cruise strongly disapproves of psychiatry).
Is there anything you guys don't have in common?
“You know, we appreciate each other.”
Has it been a challenge to make his kids feel comfortable?
“They're just exceptional people.”
Isn't it an adjustment to move in with someone—and after only a month? (In late May, Holmes packed up her apartment in Hollywood's El Royale complex and moved into Cruise's Beverly Hills manse.)
“He's the man of my dreams.”
Does he leave his dirty socks on the bedroom floor? Something? Anything?
The lady doth protest not nearly enough. It's impossible, even for a moment, to slip under the halo of cartoon hearts dancing around Holmes's head—which partly explains why the media has so relished the project of puncturing her happiness ever since it was first broadcast, from the David di Donatello awards in Rome, on April 29. (Even People magazine, a typically unwavering Hollywood celebrant, has published polls indicating that the majority of its readers believe “TomKat” is a hoax.) Though Holmes's star has surely risen, its motion is more akin to the teacup ride at the fairground: a spin that brings queasiness, not thrills.
Anyone who has seen photos from the couple's June tour of European capitals in support of their summer movies will recognize the tall, cold-eyed Jessica Rodriguez, a third wheel at all of Holmes's recent public appearances. Rodriguez, 29, was described to me as Holmes's “Scientologist chaperone,” and it was clear that she would be on hand during our interview despite my protests. Polite and restrained but alert to troublesome questions, Rodriguez chimes in only to offer an amen following one of Holmes's rhapsodies. (“You adore him,” Rodriguez says after the actress explains that she can't keep her hands off Cruise.) But she rises from her chair when Holmes is asked how she feels about the widespread disbelief in her new union.
“The truth is, we don't read that stuff because it's just rude,” Rodriguez says—referring to rumors that Cruise made a financial arrangement with Holmes (after auditioning a field of other young starlets, including Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Kate Bosworth). When I suggest that the televised hyperbolizing of their happiness may have undercut its credibility, Rodriguez asks, “Have you ever been in love? You just want to share it with the world.” I suggest that many couples prefer to cherish the feeling privately, especially in the delicate first months. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whatever the nature of their relationship, come to mind.
“But why can't they go public, you know what I mean?” Rodriguez continues. “Like, Brad and Angelina—that's just a shame for them. Right, Katie?”
“Yeah. I mean, I'm just so happy,” Holmes says in reply as a makeup artist begins to powder her cheeks. (Holmes's skin, in contrast to the evidence of a recent barrage of embarrassing tabloid photos, is perfect.) “And I love celebrating our happiness. I can't keep it in.”
Meanwhile, the tabloids report that friends back in Toledo, Ohio, where Holmes grew up, are worried about her. (“People who say that aren't my friends,” she says.) They wonder whether Cruise is sabotaging her career by steering her away from roles that deal with subject matter that Scientology disapproves of—in particular, the role of the drug-addled Edie Sedgwick in George Hickenlooper's upcoming Factory Girl, which Holmes pulled out of. “Tom's so supportive and he's such an inspiration,” she protests. “I just felt that the role wasn't right for me, and in light of my Batman Begins schedule and everything, it was just not the right time. When I pick roles, I ask, first, Is this a story that I want to tell? Can I help move this story along, and will I be an asset to it? I'm excited to keep expanding and finding different roles to play.” What about a film with Cruise? “That would be such an honor. Such an honor.”
Cruise may not be imposing his will on Holmes's career, but, with Rodriguez's help, he appears to have made a strong bid for her soul. After the interview, when I ask Rodriguez how long she's worked with Holmes—reports call her a longtime employee of the Church of Scientology—she waves her hand and says, “Oh, no, we're just best friends....Well, Katie has a lot of friends.” And how long have you been friends? “Oh, a while,” Rodriguez answers. “I don't know.”
It turns out the two women were introduced only six weeks earlier—right around the time when Holmes met Cruise. (Holmes prefers to keep the details of the couple's first date to herself, but Cruise is said to have invited her to a sushi dinner on his plane.) Rodriguez comes from a family of wealthy Bay area Scientologists; she attended a boarding school in Oregon linked to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, then went to work for the church, reportedly attaining membership in the Sea Org—Scientology's elite religious order, whose members commit to the church for one billion years—in 1998. No one close to Holmes will venture to say exactly what Rodriguez's role in the actress's life is these days.
On the day we meet, Holmes tells me she's not a Scientologist. (Three days later, in Europe, she will announce that she has converted.) “You know, it's really exciting,” the actress says of the religion. “I just started auditing”—Scientology's word for receiving spiritual counseling—“and I'm taking some courses, and I really like it. I feel it's really helping. What I like about it is that, you know, I was raised Catholic, and you can be a Catholic and a Scientologist, Jewish and a Scientologist.” Holmes went to Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic high school in Toledo, and was accepted at Columbia University before she landed the role of the lovelorn tomboy Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek. Her parents, devout Catholics, are said to be a weekly fixture at Christ the King church in Toledo. “I'm learning,” Holmes says, as the makeup artist applies eye shadow, “to celebrate my own spirit, my own being.”
No pressure from Cruise, she swears: “That's really ludicrous because, I mean, you have to know Tom. He is the most loving, generous man who… first of all, he wants to help people. He doesn't put pressure on people. He is the kindest, smartest, most adoring man. It's a pleasure and a privilege to be with him.”
As if that weren't already perfectly clear, just then a security guard lumbers into the dressing room and presents Holmes with a giant silver box tied in a thick purple ribbon. A small crowd gathers to watch her gleefully tear open the package and pluck out a Chanel diamond necklace—a gift, naturally, from Cruise. “He's my man! He's my man!” she screams, then jumps up on her chair to do an impression of her fiancé's now-famous sofa shtick from Oprah.
People begin to cheer. “This is your moment!” cries the manicurist.
“I can do splits too,” Holmes says, jumping down and splaying herself across the floor. On that note, I suggest, we should probably get the photo shoot started.
“On that note,” she replies, “I love him.”
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