How Those Viral Tom Cruise Deepfakes Were Made

Deep fakes are getting better, but there’s more to those viral Tom Cruise-TikTok ones than meets the eye.
March 19, 2021, 1:15pm
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Screenshots of the infamous deepfakes of Tom Cruise from @deeptomcruise on TikTok.

A suited-up Tom Cruise walks into frame in what looks like some sort of federal building on Capitol Hill and then he immediately trips over. He gets up with those trademark manic movements and hair flicks the Mission Impossible star is well known for, and proceeds to tell a story about an encounter in Russia with the former Soviet-leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“‘Mr. Movie Star, are you nervous?’ [...] no Mr. Gorbachev I'm not," says what you assume is Cruise, adding a signature laugh and freaky arm movements to really sell the story before continuing with a bad impression of Gorbachev and his accent. 

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"Well remember how much a polar bear weighs... Enough to break the ice."

There’s also a similar video of a yapping Tom Cruise shooting a golf ball on a course and another creepy one of him doing a magic trick. They all have a few things in common: They’re not videos of Cruise, but deepfakes of him produced by Belgian visual effects artist Chris Ume who had the help of an actual, professional Cruise impersonator, to create what many have cited are the best deepfakes ever made. 

The videos, which were all uploaded to @deeptomcruise on TikTok then subsequently went viral, are yet more evidence that deepfake technology is rapidly evolving. But it wasn’t some cheap trick, Ume has Hollywood level production skills and money, something regular deepfake videos can’t count on. Most people really shouldn’t be so worried about deepfakes of this magnitude and cost, because as Motherboard reporter Sam Cole explains to us on the latest episode of CYBER: The damaging era of deepfakes and their use is already upon us, elaborate Tom Cruise ones aside.