Amid Controversy Tom Cruise Begins Filming Valkyrie

Posted on July 19, 2007

Photo of Tom Cruise as a Nazi for the film ValkyrieDespite extreme unhappiness from certain quarters in Germany, Cruise is going forward with filming his World War II movie, Valkyrie, in which he plays a Nazi who tried to assassinate Hitler.
Filming started Thursday on a movie starring Tom Cruise as the real-life mastermind behind a plot to kill Adolf Hitler, amid German grumbling about the high-profile Scientologist playing a national hero. A spokeswoman for Babelsberg Studios outside Berlin told AFP that director Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects") had begun shooting "Valkyrie" on location in the region surrounding the German capital. German officials have baulked at the choice of Cruise to play Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was executed by firing squad in 1944 after the failed assassination attempt.

They cite the actor's ties to the Church of Scientology, which is viewed here as a "totalitarian" group that exploits vulnerable people, as making him unfit to play a German martyr. "I find that Stauffenberg stood for the most noble motives a person can have," Frank Henkel, the general secretary of the Berlin chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, told rolling news channel NTV. "I consider Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed ambassador of Scientology inappropriate for the role." The remarks came after sharp criticism from a number of politicians and even Stauffenberg's eldest son Berthold, 72, who has told the German press that Cruise "should keep his hands off my father."

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Although he was an ardent Nazi in the early years, he realised by 1944 that Germany was entrenched in a disastrous war that Hitler had no intention of ending. Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators planted a bomb under a table in Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia on July 20, 1944. But the Fuehrer escaped, though he was injured, because an officer had moved the briefcase containing the explosives behind a sturdy leg of the oak table. Stauffenberg and other officers were rounded up that same night and executed by firing squad. The filming of "Valkyrie," after the code name for the assassination plot, is scheduled to continue until October 31 with the movie due for release next year.
Cruise is flying home from the shoot to attend a welcome party for David and Victoria Beckham co-hosted by Will and Jada Smith. It's an A-list invitation list with studio heads and lots of stars, and no press will be allowed.



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