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Tom Cruise's New Comedy: He's Playing A Nazi!

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Cruise_lTom Cruise: Superspy, samurai… Nazi? Reports indicate that he’s planning to play one of the Third Reich rebels who tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Hitler in an upcoming film. Rumors about Cruise’s career moves are like catnip to us entertainment journalists, and coverage of this one hasn’t disappointed. According to the ever-reliable Fox News, “many” think that the film is part of an elaborate effort to get the German government to soften its unfriendly stance on Scientology. (Huh?!) To the wags over at Best Week Ever, it’s yet another piece of evidence that Cruise’s career is in irretrievable free-fall.

For a more plausible explanation of this perplexing development, however, you may want to look back at EW’s own Cruise files. Back in August, our own Daniel Fierman reported that Cruise was quietly looking to add more comedic roles to his seriously serious résumé. A couple of months ago, when word got out that Cruise was indeed teaming with Ben Stiller in guaranteed yukfest The Hardy Men, PopWatch noted the light-hearted turn in his role choices approvingly. But this latest news shows the Hardy project was just a distraction. He isn’t interested in easy buddy-flick giggles. No, Tom’s into some dark, absurdist stuff. Just imagine him in a Nazi uniform, that trademark deranged gleam in his eye, shouting at Goebbels and Himmler to stop being so “glib.” Talk about humor via discomfort! Of course he hasn’t announced this project as a comedy — playing it straight is the key to the gag. This guy’ll out-Borat Borat by the time the film is through. I know I’ll be in stitches.

addCredit(“Tom Cruise: Mark Sullivan/WireImage.com”)

With me? No? Fine — even if you don’t buy Tom’s Nazi movie as a twistedjoke, it’s certainly an interesting direction for him to take, and itdoesn’t deserve to be dismissed out of hand. (Which is why I’m writingthis deeply respectful, entirely non-flip post about it, of course.)Gary Susman points that while Cruise has taken some sinister andunexpected turns in movies like Interview with the Vampire, Magnolia, and Collateral— for my money, his best performances by far — he’s rarely played anoutright, unqualified failure. That’s what he’ll be in this one; hischaracter’s attempt to take out Hitler was a complete fiasco, and heended up mutilated and murdered along with thousands of other Germanresistance members. It’s a far cry from the glamorous action heroeswe’re used to seeing Cruise play, and he might be able to really sinkhis dramatic, recently straightened teeth into the role of a covert fighter who’s doomed todestruction.

So what do you think, PopWatchers? Are you intrigued enough to plunkdown $10 and see this thing? And will anyone ever comprehend themysterious workings of Tom Cruise’s mind?