Jerry Maguire – Neon Magazine

“I had to depend on my ‘soppy alarm’ a lot”

Talking ballpark figures with Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe.

Jerry Maguire could have even more saccharin. Why didn’t you take it that way?

Yeah, I know. Frankly, I had to depend on my ‘soppy alarm’ a lot, because I see stuff happening while we’re making the movie and I’m like: “No, no, no, we can’t go there!” It’s the same with editing. I really tried not to have a big swell of music at times of personal victory.

Did you always have Tom Cruise in mind for the lead?

I wrote it for Tom Hanks, originally. Hanks was one of the few guys who’d ever called me up and said, “I like your stuff – why don’t you write something for me?” and I said I would. It took me a long time; the story is about a 35-year-old guy, and Hanks, was almost 40 by the time I finished the script – he’d won Academy Awards and he wanted to direct a movie. So then I had Cruise in mind. I sent it to him, he responded instantly and, basically, it was a happy day.

Do you think Cruise identified with Maguire?

There’s this feeling that says, “What if this all disappears? What part of me will be left if all this disappears”? and the thought about that and really invested that stuff into the character. Actors would always be surprised when they read with him. They’d come in and he’d be a guy with the script, wanting to act – not a huge corporate logo. A lot of people told me, “You’ll never get Tom Cruise, he’ll never play a loser” – but that’s what he wanted to do.

When he’s in the shades, though, it’s almost a nod to Risky Business. Was that deliberate?

When we finished it, the subject of Risky Business did come up. It kind of made sense that Joel Goodson could have ended up a sports agent. But if you sat down to do a sequel to Risky Business and said, “Let’s make him a sports agent,” it would be a terrible movie.

Why did you cast Renee Zellweger as the film’s love interest instead of a much bigger star?

She caught Tom’s attention in an interesting way and when they were together, they looked like an odd couple that might ultimately be a great couple. Renee was always electric when she was in the room with Tom, and she kind of flipped a switch inside him that made him seem more real and more like a real guy.

Your mum’s in it too. Was she difficult to work with?

I had to calm her down; she wanted to be in every scene. She’s a bit of a ham, but I’ll tell her you asked about her.

Courtesy of Neon Magazine (UK) – David Eimer – April, 1997