"They have the hardest job in the movie because they have to be there the whole time," Shankman said. "They had no eccentricities in their characters to work off of, they just had to be normal people in this outrageous world and that was not easy. They are absolute heroes to everybody else in this movie. Catherine Zeta-Jones was so awestruck by Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise loved the two of them so much."
In fact, Shankman added, Cruise was willing to let some of his best work hit the cutting room floor for Hough's benefit after seeing how audiences reacted to some of their scenes together at test screenings of the film.
"Because of the nature of morality and sexiness issues in some of the scenes, Tom could tell that moms were turning away from her," Shankman said. "Even though they were big and important scenes and they worked really hard on them, Tom was like, 'Get rid of it. We can't hurt her. She's too important to the film and she's too good.' That really speaks to the kind of family we became."
And in that family, Cruise became a big brother that Boneta was proud to look up to.
"Tom is such a cool guy. He's just as humble as he is talented, and he was treating each day on the set as if it were his first and last movie ever," Boneta said. "That was so motivating since it's my first movie and his 5,000th. But he looked like a little kid doing his first movie. He committed like no one else and he nailed it."