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Tom Cruise's time apart from son Connor sparked emotional response on set, former director reveals

The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick shared how thinking of his son with Nicole Kidman helped the Mission Impossible star tap into his emotions

Tom Cruise attends the UK premiere and Royal Film Performance of 'Top Gun: Maverick'
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
Online News WriterNew York
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Though Tom Cruise has been in the spotlight and giving himself to film for well over three decades, he gives significantly less away about his personal life, particularly his role as a father. 

The Mission Impossible actor, 61, first became a dad when he and ex-wife Nicole Kidman, 56, adopted daughter Isabella Jane, 31, in 1992, followed by son Connor Anthony, 29, in 1995. He later welcomed daughter Suri, 17, with ex-wife Katie Holmes, 45, both of whom he is allegedly estranged from, as from Nicole.

And while he has always had a firm boundary between his professional and personal life, there came a moment while filming The Last Samurai in 2003 when director Edward Zwick needed his lead star to bring down his walls.

WATCH: Nicole Kidman's relationship with adopted children with Tom Cruise

In his new memoir Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood, the Blood Diamond director recalled his time filming with Tom, and how he used Connor, who at the time was eight years old, to help the star tap into his emotions for a crucial scene.

Recounting one of the final scenes, for which they only had so much time and margin of error before losing the right natural lighting, Edward noted that while Tom certainly knew how to take directions, he was worried simply asking him to act emotionally would come across as forced.

"If I hoped to get him to the right emotional place, I felt I needed to touch some vulnerable part in him that I'd yet to see him reveal in the movie," he explained.

Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise during "The Last Samurai" - New York Premiere, December 2003© Getty
Tom and Edward at the 2003 premiere for The Last Samurai

"The result would have invariably ended up feeling forced," he continued, noting: "Precisely because he was trying to give me what I wanted. I didn't want him to try to make something happen. I wanted it to happen."

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MORE: Who is Tom Cruise dating? A timeline of the Mission Impossible star's romantic history

He went on to share how because he was aware of Tom's bond with his son, as well as with one of his younger co-stars, he decided to ask him to tell him about him right before calling action.

Nicole Kidman with Connor Cruise and Bella Cruise at the Lakers Game© Getty
Nicole with Connor and Isabella in 2004

"He looked at me, surprised," he wrote, revealing: "I knew Connor had just returned to L.A. and Tom wouldn't be seeing him for a while."

MORE: Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise's son Connor shares rare glimpse of life away from the spotlight

"For a moment Tom was quiet. And then he began to talk. It doesn't matter what he said in those few short moments in the  fading light. I watched as he looked inward, and a window seemed to open and  his eyes softened."

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman at the Annual American Cinematheque Moving Picture Ball© Getty
Tom and Nicole were married from 1990 to 2001

Edward was then quick to get him into position and start filming, and further wrote in his book: "He nailed the scene with the depth of feeling I had loved in his best performances."

He added: "As Tom walked past me on his  way down the mountain, he caught my eye and mouthed, 'Thank you.'"

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