But on the Thursday episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the Today show host didn’t exactly hesitate when Cohen suggested the pair role play and relive that tense, televised interaction as part of a “Clubhouse Playhouse” segment on the late night show.
“Can I just say before we do this, I like Tom Cruise,” Lauer said to preface the pair’s reenactment. “We have a good relationship; we have a good friendship. It was just one little moment.” With that said, the morning show host pulled a brunette wig onto his head to play Cruise.
Lauer read from a script with gusto as he embodied Cruise’s distinct mannerisms, leaning forward to emphasize his points as he chatted with Cohen-as-Lauer.
“I’ve never agreed to psychiatry, ever,” Lauer said in Cruise’s hushed tone. “Do you know what Adderrall is? Do you know what Ritalin – do you know now Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?”
And so the intense conversation went on, with faux Cruise complimenting faux Lauer on his interviewing skills at one point.
“You are extremely handsome!” Lauer-as-Cruise said, later adding, “You are a great interviewer. You are a fantastic interviewer.”
In 2005, Lauer’s interview with the Hollywood actor quickly went south after the TV host steered the conversation from more softball questions about his then-fiancée Katie Holmes to more serious topics like Scientology and fame.
At one point, Cruise insisted that he wanted to keep the couple’s relationship out of the spotlight. “I still feel that I will talk about what I want to talk about, and I will not talk about what I don’t want to talk about,” Cruise said, to which a determined Lauer asked him point blank whether his engagement to Katie Holmes was a publicity stunt for War of the Worlds.
“There’s always cynics, always has been, always will be. I have never worried, Matt, about what other people think and what other people say. You can’t,” the actor responded, getting testy. Later, asked about Scientology, Cruise became curt.
“It’s something you don’t understand. You can be a Christian and be a Scientologist,” he said. “It is a religion in that it deals with the spirit, you as a spiritual being.”
On Thursday, Lauer acknowledged that Cruise didn’t look the best after their headline-making interview.
“I think he got such a bum rap for that. And to be honest, he was a real mensch after that. He came and he apologized, we had a great time,” Lauer said.