Matt Lauer Reflects on Infamous Tom Cruise Interview: I Wondered, ‘Can I Take Him in a Wrestling Match?’

Matt Lauer might’ve held his tongue during a tense 2005 interview with Tom Cruise, but the Today show anchor recently revealed that he had plenty of thoughts racing through his mind at the time.

On Wednesday, January 27, Lauer and his Today show coanchor Savannah Guthrie sat down with Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen to chat about a wide range of topics, including the now-infamous interview.

“I was thinking, ‘Can I take him in a wrestling match? Could I tackle him on the set?’” Lauer, 58, told Cohen of his internal dialogue after Cruise, 53, got testy.

In 2005, Cruise was promoting his film War of the Worlds on the Today show; his conversation took a sour turn when the veteran broadcaster began to ask Cruise about his then-new relationship with Katie Holmes and his criticism of Brooke Shields’ use of antidepressants.

Matt Lauer and Tom Cruise
Matt Lauer interviews actor Tom Cruise on June 23, 2005. Virginia Sherwood/NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do,” the actor told Lauer, at one point calling the anchor “glib.” (The two men have since made up; in 2013, Lauer told Howard Stern in an interview that the pair now have a “great relationship.”)

Despite the heated back-and-forth, however, Lauer told Cohen that he gained a lot from that interaction.

“Even the bad interviews I think you learn from. They make you better,” he said. “If you have a bad experience on the air, you don’t think you’ve done your job or you have an embarrassing moment. I guarantee you’ll work harder the next time not to let it happen again.”

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