Skip to content

Tom Cruise Skipped the Oscars Over Scientology Jokes, Insiders Say

The star wasn't on hand to support his nominated film Top Gun: Maverick.

Top Gun: Maverick was nominated in six categories at Sunday's Academy Awards, yet its star and producer was conspicuously absent. Because of his producing credit, Tom Cruise would have been one of the winners, had the action sequel taken home Best Picture. He has also made a point of promoting the experience of seeing movies in theaters, and he was widely reported to have been the toast of the town at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon in February in part because of that. Yet, while some of his co-stars and the creative team behind Top Gun: Maverick made it to the Oscars, Cruise was not in attendance. His representative offered a rationale, but other sources have claimed that he had other reasons for not showing up to the ceremony, including concern about jokes poking fun at his controversial religion, Scientology. Read on to find out more.

READ THIS NEXT: 7 Oscar-Winning Movies That Are Offensive by Today's Standards.

Insiders claim Cruise was worried about the host's monologue.

Tom Cruise at the 2022 FIA Formula 1 championship in the UK
motorsports Photographer / Shutterstock

Following the Oscars, Variety reported that insiders "hinted" that Cruise decided not to attend the show after hearing that writer and director Judd Apatow was helping host Jimmy Kimmel construct his monologue. As the publication pointed out, Apatow made jokes about Cruise and Scientology at the Directors Guild Awards in February and has spoken out about him in other contexts. (The actor was not at the DGAs.)

The 60-year-old star, who was not present, was also the punchline of a Scientology joke host Jerrod Carmichael made at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this year. His absence from that ceremony was unsurprising, because he had previously returned his Golden Globe awards amid the controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 2021.

Kimmel reportedly doesn't have any beef with Cruise.

Molly McNearney, the executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Kimmel's wife, who also was a producer for this year's Oscars, spoke to Variety about the telecast. She clarified that Apatow was not a co-writer on the monologue and that she hoped that rumor hadn't influenced Cruise's decision.

"Jimmy tends to send his monologue to a group of people he trusts, comedy writers and comedians," McNearney explained. "They don't help with the monologue. They just tell him like that joke's working, that joke's not working. No, Judd was not writing or doing anything for the monologue."

McNearney also said that Kimmel was looking forward to seeing the Top Gun star.

"Jimmy loves Tom," she said. "Tom had just been on the show the week before. And they talked about seeing each other and Jimmy was excited to tell him that we got real Navy pilots to do the flyover at the top of the Oscars. Jimmy was really disappointed he didn't come."

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The host did make one Scientology crack.

Jimmy Kimmel hosting the 2023 Oscars
Jimmy Kimmel Live / YouTube

In his opening monologue, Kimmel joked about Top Gun: Maverick referencing Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. "Tom Cruise with his shirt off in that beach football scene? L. Ron Hubba Hubba, you know what I'm saying?" he quipped.

McNearney said that Kimmel had more material about Cruise prepared that he would have used if the star had shown up. Asked if he would have delivered the Hubbard joke if Cruise was in the crowd, the producer replied, "No. We had about a three-minute chunk of the monologue dedicated to Tom Cruise, honoring him and his role in reviving the movie industry. We were so disappointed when we learned a few days before the Oscars that he wouldn't be there. Jimmy loves him and really wanted to celebrate him."

There's another rumor about why Cruise wasn't there.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the premiere of "Eyes Wide Shut" in 1999
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Another source claimed that Cruise skipped the Oscars for an entirely different reason: to avoid ex-wife Nicole Kidman, to whom he was married from 1990 to 2001. An anonymous insider claimed to The Daily Mail, "Tom was not there because she was there, and he did not want a run-in."

However, the publication also noted that sources close to Cruise said that skipping the ceremony was "not personal" and merely the result of a scheduling conflict.

Cruise shared his own explanation.

Tom Cruise at the 2022 FIA Formula 1 championship in the UK
motorsports Photographer / Shutterstock

On the day of the Oscars, People reported that Cruise was not attending the Oscars because he was working on another movie. His representative confirmed that he was outside of the country filming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two. People also reported that if Top Gun: Maverick were to win Best Picture, the award would be accepted by producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under