Tom Cruise credits his childhood growing up in a single-parent family as enabling him to acquire leadership skills.

The Jerry Maguire actor, 42, took over as the head of the household from a young age as his mother MARY LEE raised him and his three older sisters MARIAN, LEE ANNE and CASS alone after his father left.

Cruise says, "I didn't feel the lack of one (father) either, because at a very young age I sort of became the father in my family, the leader, whatever you want to call it.

"It was like, 'Ok, I'm the guy who's going to fix things'.

"Ultimately, I've always felt that I'm responsible for what I do, the choices that I make, the mistakes and successes.

"Not that I don't need help, because I really do depend on people. I can't produce a movie alone, and I wouldn't want to act alone."

Cruise feels he has benefited from acting opposite father-like figures such as Paul Newman in THE COLOR OF MONEY.

He explains, "It was great having the opportunity to work with Paul Newman, a guy and an actor I respected, and watch how he dealt with life, particularly at a time when I was a young actor and going through many things.

"But I always had a concept, an idea, of how I wanted to live my life.

"I've had an interesting life. There are ways of handling the complexities. I'm willing to take on responsibilities as a father, as a producer, as an actor - and I enjoy that.

"I've always been changing and evolving and growing. There's no pinnacle of power where you can sit back and rest."

02/08/2004 21:32