Moving on quickly, I ask him if there were any scenes in movies that made him want to move to L.A.

"There were scenes that made me want to travel the world. Whether it was Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago. The Elvis movies made me want to go to Hawaii and California. I was surprised when I got to California how cold the water was. I remember going out - Emilio Estevez had a place out at the beach, and Timothy Hutton - and I'd say, 'Man, this water's cold.' I was used to warm lakes in the summer in the places that I'd lived in."

These days, he loves to walk back in time on empty movie lots, where his favorite movies were filmed. "I find myself shooting in different lots, like where they shot Chinatown, or where they shot The Sting. I like walking all those different lots and saying, 'Billy Wilder shot on this stage.' To be there on those soundstages and think, Wow, those guys were here. Sweating and working away, worried, wondering, Is this scene going to work? Is this movie going to work?"

Seeking another place that might evoke that same nostalgia, I mention the Formosa Cafe, a slice of the Old Hollywood festooned with photos of famous regulars through the ages, a joint so authentic it was featured in the film L.A. Confidential.

"Yes, that has some history," says Cruise. "I ate there when I was doing Top Gun."

"You rode a motorcycle in that movie. Do you ride in real life?"

"Definitely. I love [cruising] the Pacific Coast Highway," he says. "Up north, as you're driving up to Montecito - that's the great drive. I like the wonderful off-camber turns. You take it about two, three in the morning. I like the empty road at night, the nice sweeping turns. It can be challenging as well as fun."

"What kind of bike?"

"I have an Augusta 109 and a Ducati, and the one I used in M:I-2."

"What kind of car would you drive up to Montecito?"

"I have an old Porsche speedster that I bought about 15 years ago. I really like that car."
His favorite street is, of course, the iconic Sunset Strip.

"Driving down Sunset, you get the history of Sunset from a musical perspective. You see the posters from movies, and there's a lot of life on that street. Tower Records. The Whisky. The Key Club. Sunset Plaza, with the restaurants where every­body sits outside. I love driving down Sunset and looking at those places.