Tom Cruise: Alec Michael/Globe Photos
Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
April 19, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Tom Cruise is busy trying to learn everything he needs to know before heading off to Japan this summer to begin his next project for Warner Bros.: ”The Last Samurai,” directed by Ed Zwick. Set in the 19th century, Samurai will star Cruise as an American hired by the Japanese emperor to train his troops in the art of Western warfare; to prepare, the actor is studying Japanese, Japanese history, and sword fighting. Cruise — who you may recall pushed his stunt double aside and insisted on dangling his own butt off a cliff for the ”Mission: Impossible” sequel — hasn’t lost his sense of adventure: ”You don’t do a movie called ”The Last Samurai” to sit around a table and talk. You do it for the carnage!” he laughs.

Additional reporting by Jeff Jensen and Cindy Pearlman

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