In 2014, celebrities playing video games is as natural as the sun rising and the earth spinning. But in the 1990s, it wasn't. Especially when it came to relatively obscure shooters on the Mac.
Hardcore fans of the game might already know about this story (it's quietly done the rounds for years now among the community), but for everyone else: in the mid 90s, while on the set of Mission Impossible in London, Tom Cruise was playing Bungie's classic shooter Marathon. And he got stuck.
Because Tom Cruise does not call helplines, and because there wasn't really an internet for this kind of thing, Tom Cruise did what all smart celebrities do, and just called up Bungie's head office, where he was put through to writer (and later creator of Stubbs the Zombie) Matt Soell. Soell tells the story from there:
Technically his lackey called me; Tom Cruise has people to do these things for him, you know. I passed the call to Doug Zartman because the lackey was communicating poorly ("He's in a big dark room, there's a corridor going out of it but the door doesn't work, and there's this monster shooting at him, and there's another room he can see but he can't get to...") Ever try to explain to someone how to explain a Marathon Infinity level to someone else? You can imagine the difficulty. I was getting frustrated, as was the lackey, and Doug bravely volunteered to jump on the grenade, so I transferred the call. Moments later, Tom Cruise (who must have been pretty frustrated himself) grabbed the phone and started talking directly to Doug, who quickly helped him figure out whatever was confusing him.
I believe the lackey was still listening in on an extension or something because at one point Doug jokingly asked Mr. Cruise if he wanted to do an ad for the game and the lackey shouted "NO ENDORSEMENTS!"
I bet 2014 Tom Cruise, now that he's starred in a movie where he straps on a robot suit and fights aliens, would be totally down to do a Marathon ad.