The promotional poster for “American Made” aptly has the tagline: “Based on a true lie.” While a portion of the Tom Cruise picture is based on Barry Seal’s real-life and chaotic exploits, a lot of it has been spun for the sake of entertainment. Perhaps one of the biggest inaccuracies is how Cruise’s version of the smugger looks literally nothing like the real guy.
This wasn’t an oversight on director Doug Liman’s part. While speaking with Vulture, the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” director candidly discussed how Cruise and Seal are polar opposites in terms of looks. “You know, we’re not making a biopic,” Liman admitted. “Tom Cruise doesn’t look like Barry Seal.” Instead, Liman says that his film is inspired by stories surrounding Seal, which is an interesting creative decision for a film that tackles real-life events that helped shape both the CIA and the Medellin cartel.
If anything, Liman admits that his picture is more about playing around with Cruise’s image as a movie star. For one, Liman acknowledges that Cruise isn’t playing a traditional hero in “American Made.” Beyond that, the director is aware of how Cruise has always been associated with flying since 1986’s “Top Gun,” a connection he was eager to make fun of. “It was like, ‘Let’s poke fun at the whole Tom Cruise image!’ It’s not a sketch, he is an extraordinary actor and in a way ‘American Made’ takes him back to his roots,” Liman told Metro.