20 JULY 2007

After a series of setbacks Tom Cruise has finally begun lensing scenes for his new film, Valkyrie, in a forest outside Berlin. The Hollywood heavyweight, who is portraying the German officer who led a 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, stepped onto set wearing a Nazi uniform and an eye-patch on Thursday.

There had been some controversy in previous weeks about the casting of the American actor as the plotter who tried to plant a bomb in Hitler's briefing room. But in photos released from the film, there is an undeniable resemblance between Tom, whose paternal great-grandparents were German, and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who is considered a hero in Germany.

Some politicians had objected to Tom's Scientology beliefs which had led to a debate over whether he should be allowed to work in the country. Those obstacles now seem to have been overcome, although permission has not been granted to film on location at the place where Stauffenberg was executed.

Parts of Berlin and surrounding areas have been transformed into the 1940s, with WWII-era planes spotted practicing fight scenes in the skies above. The Fuhrer's military HQ has also been recreated and locals have been warned in advance about the display of Nazi symbols, which are illegal in Germany. Valkyrie, due to hit screens in August 2008, features the talents of several acclaimed British thespians, includingKenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp and Eddie Izzard.

It's for two other well-known Brits that Tom is throwing a private party on Sunday, however. The Mission: Impossible star is jetting back to the States to host a 'Welcome To LA' party for David and Victoria Beckham, alongside wife Katie Holmes, Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Invitations, printed in gold lettering on deeper gold card, have been sent out to guests who are set to join them at the bash in the Museum Of Contemporary Art. The celebration, which takes place the day after David is due to take to the field in his debut match with LA Galaxy, is likely to further increase the UK couple's profile across the pond.

Photo: ©
The actor was looking very much the part as he lensed a sequence preceding the film's climax where his character flies to Hitler's HQ to plant a bomb in the briefing roomPhoto: © Rex
Photo: ©
Snapped in an ID photo for the film, Tom's profile bears a striking resemblance to that of the man he is portraying, real life German hero Claus Von StauffenbergPhoto: © Rex