Are you influenced by an actor's offscreen behavior when assessing a film? Check out today's Ask the Critic question and post your own

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated May 22, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise: Evan Agostini/ Getty Images

Are you influenced by an actor’s offscreen behavior when assessing a film?

How much do you let yourself be influenced by an actor’s offscreen behavior when assessing his or her film? —Serema Bramble

You describe a ”dark-haired Scientologist [who] jumps on Oprah’s couch” in your full question, so let’s get right to Mr. Cruise. I don’t factor specific behavior such as couch-bouncing and shrink-dissing into my critical analysis of the man’s work in Mission: Impossible III. But I do think it’s fair game for critics and civilians alike to consider how this complicated star, facing a crisis of image control, uses his star vehicle not only for purposes of PR but also as…therapy. I suppose it’s possible to watch Cruise in his latest Mission as a controlled, secretive man loudly in love with a generic girl and accept this complication in Ethan Hunt’s work schedule as a plot device, nothing more. But awareness of how the act matches up with what we’ve experienced of the actor makes the moviegoing experience far more fascinating. And not just for psychiatrists.

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