Sofa, So Good: Tom Cruise's Mission: Oprah

Oprah Winfrey with Tom Cruise in Colorado for Part 1 of a mostly sit-down interview.
Oprah Winfrey with Tom Cruise in Colorado for Part 1 of a mostly sit-down interview. (Harpo Productions Via Reuters)
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By Tom Shales
Saturday, May 3, 2008

"I never stop learning," Tom Cruise boasted proudly from his corner of the couch, and Oprah Winfrey beamed back at him from hers. Together again on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (but this time on Cruise's couch) for their first powwow since Cruise made like a jumping jack three years ago, the two superstars put their heads together and tried to effect a little Cruise control.

Since leaping about on Winfrey's studio furniture as he declared undying love for third wife Katie Holmes, Cruise has bumbled through a series of embarrassing antics and tarnished his status as a box office barnstormer. Winfrey obligingly tossed softball questions his way during the first half of a two-part Cruise schmooze broadcast yesterday; Part 2, taped in a studio, airs Monday.

Arriving at the movie star's mountaintop mansion near Telluride, Colo., Winfrey gaped at the postcard views and gushed, "I want to weep, it's so beautiful." She hugged Katie and Tom in the mudroom -- where a pair of personalized moccasins awaited Winfrey's arrival-- and then got a tour of the woodsy house from Cruise, Holmes quickly making herself scarce. She and Cruise had made a point of holding hands, however, while on-camera together.

When Cruise showed Winfrey a collection of his movie scripts handsomely bound in leather, Winfrey exclaimed, "This is the coolest thing!" When he showed Winfrey his daughter Suri's miniature office, Winfrey shouted, "Oh, my God" and "Oh, that is perfect, Tom." Thrilled to pieces by the family kitchen, Winfrey said, "Oh, I love a great kitchen" and "It's so normal! It's so kitchen-like!"

The tour eventually over, Tom & Oprah took to the couch for questions about Cruise's behavior, starting with what Winfrey solemnly called "the sofa incident" of 2005.

"I was like, 'Wow, what was that?' " Winfrey recalled. "If you could take it back," she asked Cruise, "would you still jump on the sofa?"

Cruise said, "It was a moment and it was real" and "I just felt that way. . . . That was just how I felt."

So apparently the answer is yes.

Cruise tried teasing Winfrey: "You were egging me on," he said. "You were egging me on. . . . You were egging me on."

Finally he said that what he was feeling that day was hard to put into words, though that seems true of almost every feeling he has. "I can't even articulate it," he said. "It's something I just can't articulate."

Winfrey brought up other shenanigans Cruise has perpetrated in recent years, like offering unsolicited medical and psychiatric opinions on the "Today" show about postpartum depression to Brooke Shields and advising her to follow the dictates of Scientology, to which Cruise subscribes.

"What happened to you in that interview?" asked Winfrey, who then offered up a potential excuse. "Had you had enough sleep?" Said Cruise: "I was pressed." Of his drum-banging on behalf of his church, Cruise said, "I'm not trying to tell anyone how they should lead their life," adding that Scientologists don't do that because "we're here to help."

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