LOS ANGELES - We know Tom Cruise is a man dedicated to his craft. But his ability to exist on almost no sleep was tested by Oblivion.
Why? On set in Iceland, the sun shone brightly 22 hours a day.
"I didn't (sleep). I couldn't. First of all, I couldn't wait to go to Iceland," said the star at the film's massive premiere at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard Wednesday night. "It has a haunting beauty. We'd shoot all day and then I'd set up adventures at night - or whatever you call it," when the sun doesn't go down, he said. "So I got to go snowmobiling on a glacier. I rappelled into a volcano. Those were my downtime hours."
In Oblivion Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the last humans left on Earth in 2077 after a brutal war, tasked with fixing drones that patrol for rogue aliens. Cruise called his first sci-fi film since 2005's War of the Worlds "hauntingly romantic. And the story itself has twists and turns until the final frame of the movie."
On Wednesday, Cruise was joined by co-stars Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Freeman said the story is a big departure from apocalypse tales that precede it. Plus, "the toys are awesome," he grinned, gesturing at Oblivion's huge prop "Bubbleship" aircraft on hand for the event.
It was the first time he and Cruise have worked together, despite meeting 20 years ago. "I've watched him almost his entire career," said Freeman. "Did you ever see a movie called Legends? How about Risky Business? He's an awesome actor."
Director Joseph Kosinski admitted that he was nervous before meeting Cruise, who elevated Kosinski's original story into $100 million territory after taking a liking to the script.
"At first I was nervous, but Tom has a way in the first couple of minutes of getting rid of that," he said. For the actor's 50th birthday last summer, Kosinski gave Cruise a replica of the Moto Bike he rides in the film.
"For my birthday Tom gave me a beautiful model of the Bubbleship made out of metal. Down to the finest detail. It's a piece of art. He gives the best gifts," Kosinski said.
Cruise revealed he has a special way of making all of his films family-friendly. "When I'm working on films I always - even my oldest and my nieces and nephews - they always want me to tell them stories. So I will work on stories by telling them stories of my films as I'm working on the script. It's really fun. So they all know every story. Whether they'll see it at a certain point or not."
And this summer, Cruise's plan is simple: "Just working. Working. I've got a lot of films that I've got in development that I'm working on," he said.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)