Katie Holmes reveals the story behind the surprise guest star in her latest film 'Alone Together'
Katie Holmes didn't have to look very far to find the right singer to croon the cover of "Blue Moon" that plays over the opening credits of her new movie, Alone Together. The actress wrote, directed and stars in the COVID-era romantic comedy — now playing in theaters and arriving on VOD on July 29 — which features the singing debut of her 16-year-old daughter, Suri Cruise.
"I always want the highest level of talent," Holmes tells Yahoo Entertainment about how the mother-daughter collaboration came about. "So I asked her! She's very, very talented. She said she would do it and she recorded it, and I let her do her thing. That's the way I direct in general: It's like, 'This is what I think we all want — go do your thing.'" (Watch our video interview above.)
And Holmes teases that her daughter's singing career won't be a one-and-done affair. "She actually did sing in Rare Objects, which is the film we did last fall," the director says of her recently completed third feature, a period drama based on the 2016 bestseller by Kathleen Tessaro. But don't expect a Suri Cruise arena tour anytime soon. "Other than that, she's a 16-year-old kid doing high school," Holmes says, laughing.
There's a special connection that Holmes and Cruise share to "Blue Moon" as well. The director cites the 1987 Diane Keaton comedy Baby Boom as one of the influences on Alone Together, and is an avowed fan of all things Keaton in general. Not coincidentally, the Annie Hall star covered "Blue Moon" in Rob Reiner's 2014 film, And So It Goes. "Diane met my daughter when she was a year old," Holmes reveals, which makes Cruise's rendition of the classic 1934 ballad in Alone Together a sweet full-circle moment.
Speaking of full-circle moments, Alone Together is going into wide release 25 years after Holmes made her feature film debut in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. The future Dawson's Creek superstar was only 19 years old when she landed the small, but memorable role of Tobey Maguire's high school crush in that critically acclaimed 1997 drama. Reflecting on that movie a quarter-century later, Holmes says she can see how that formative experience with Lee shaped her own creative evolution into a filmmaker.
"That shoot was so exciting for me — it was my first job," she recalls. "When I was there, I didn't really understand what was happening, but in looking at the film many times after, Ang's ability to capture worlds is so incredible. I think that he's such a poet in the way that he shoots a scene, and the dialogue he uses and how that tells the story in a very simple way. It's all about finding the simplest way to get your story across."
Alone Together pairs Holmes with Jim Sturgess as a pair of New Yorkers who separately make the decision to flee the Big Apple at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. They both end up booking the same upstate Airbnb and, after some initial uncertainty and confusion, end up taking shelter together. Needless to say, their relationship eventually takes a romantic turn.
Discussing Holmes's directing style, Sturgess praises her ability to let the performers in front of the camera figure out a scene as they're going along. "She gives you this incredible space between action and cut," the 44-year-old actor says. "She very rarely shouted, 'Cut!' actually! You'd think the scene had ended and she just kind of left it hanging. I love that she was always searching for those little nuggets of authenticity."
Like Holmes, Sturgess is celebrating his own cinematic anniversary this year. Fifteen years ago, the British actor made his big Hollywood debut alongside Evan Rachel Wood as the star of Julie Taymor's 2007 musical Across the Universe, inspired by the Beatles's immortal back catalogue. Although the film had a mixed critical and commercial reception upon its release, it has become a cult favorite among fans of unconventional movie musicals, thanks to memorable set-pieces like a spirited song-and-dance sequence in a bowling alley scored to "I've Just Seen a Face."
"I remember being pretty sore after that sequence," Sturgess says now. "We really did try and learn how to slide down these bowling alleys and everyone was genuinely falling over because they were greased up. When you watch the movie [now], you realize they were only interested in the falling down parts, and we were trying our best to stay up! I have great memories of making that film, and I'm bound by that experience to the rest of the cast. We still keep in touch."
So would Holmes and Sturgess reunite for a movie musical of their own? "Absolutely," Holmes says with genuine delight. "I would be honored." And, of course, that film would have to include her daughter performing "Blue Moon" on-camera. "Me and Suri in a movie," Sturgess enthuses. "There you go."
— Video produced by Kat Vasquez and edited by Schuyler Stone
Alone Together is playing in theaters now and debuts on most VOD services on July 29.