It’s been 30 years since many people got their introduction to the world of NASCAR in Days of Thunder.
The 1990 film starred Tom Cruise, who was reunited with Top Gun director Tony Scott for the role.
When it came time for Tom to pick his leading lady, a 22-year-old starlet caught his eye. He handpicked Nicole Kidman to play Dr. Claire Lewicki. She was the only woman with a major role in the film.
Vintage footage from the Entertainment Tonight vault shows Tom praising Nicole. “She’s a very strong character,” he said of his then-girlfriend, with whom he’d only recently become involved at the time.
“I mean, she is so extremely talented,” he continued. “She just has a real presence.”
A fresh-faced Nicole had no idea what the implications of the film would be for her personal or professional life. It was the Australian actress’s first-ever role in the US.
“Yes, I am involved with Tom Cruise,” she bashfully admits in the sit-down. “We didn’t become involved until very late in the film anyway.”
When asked if she was prepared for what would come after the blockbuster role, she admitted she wasn’t. “I don’t know how you would prepare for it,” she said. “Hopefully, it will be a stepping stone for me to do some other work here.”
For Tom, he was happy to portray what he felt like were heroic Americans. “You know, racing, there’s something very heroic about the drivers,” he said. “They’re like modern-day gladiators. It’s almost like the last American hero-type sport.”
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