Genie Writer Richard Curtis Asked Tom Cruise For Permission Before Including Joke In Movie


Curtis says, “After all these years, I’ve at last made a Tom Cruise movie,” referring to “Genie,” which is currently available on Peacock.

Tom Cruise may not have physically been there on the Genie set, but he was there in spirit, according to Richard Curtis.

In the newest Christmas comedy from the writer of Love Actually, Melissa McCarthy’s character Flora, who is the title character, falls in love with the 61-year-old action actor after watching him in a Mission: Impossible movie, which is her first time ever going to the movies. Soon after, she covers her bedroom wall with posters of Cruise, fantasizes about living with him, and even receives a Christmas gift from her new friend Bernard (Paapa Essiedu) that features the actor’s face on it.

“We definitely had to ask him [for permission],” Curtis, 67, tells of including Cruise in the film. “I mean, we asked him through his people. I’m lucky enough to know Tom a bit. He’s always been very sweet to me. And we worked on a film for a while, which didn’t happen.”

Jokes Curtis of the former Sexiest Man Alive’s response, “I don’t know whether it’s a favor to me and Melissa or whether someone in the mail room said, ‘This sounds okay.’ But it means that after all these years, I’ve at last made a Tom Cruise movie.”

“There’s a 3-second clip of Mission: Impossible. So I’m so thrilled that bit’s in,” he adds.
In Genie, McCarthy’s Flora befriends the down-on-his-luck Bernard, who summoned her. The story switches between moments of off-the-wall humor and more serious, heartfelt messages about love, friendship and the holiday season.

McCarthy, 53, is credited by Curtis with coming up with several of the movie’s humor, including one where she responds, “I love them, they’re delicious,” when asked if she liked cats.


“It was amazing when Melissa would come up with a new and humorous joke to tell. Then, of course, you have to repeat the process four more times. You must ensure that you did it correctly. He laughs and says, “You have to make sure you get it at the right speed from the right angle.” “So it’s always a mixture between kind of mischief and very conscientious behavior on movies.”

“In my movies, you want it to be emotionally true at the same time as being silly. So [Melissa] went between being impish and just being a really proper, serious actor,” says Curtis, who’s also known for romantic-comedy classics like Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Directed by Sam Boyd, Genie also reunites Curtis with Alan Cumming, who originally starred as the title character (now played by Essiedu, 33) in Curtis’ 1991 TV movie Bernard and the Genie. But in the new film, Bernard and the Genie, which is based on the novel by Rowan Atkinson, Cumming plays Bernard’s avaricious boss.

Curtis says he has been friends with “sweet and interesting” Cumming for a long time, and he requested her to be a part of the Genie cast “as a favor.”

“We just thought if Bernard’s the sweetest guy in the world, and we got in touch with him and said, ‘Would you like to now play the nastiest guy in the world?’ [whether he would],” said the filmmaker. “And he’s played a few scoundrels in his time.”

“So it was lovely seeing Alan again. He’s aged well, I think,” Curtis quips.