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Tom Cruise is a bit of an anomaly in Hollywood. The leading man has proven his acting chops with a range of difficult roles. He has stayed in the spotlight by completing increasingly death-defying stunts by himself over the years. But at the same time, he has proven painfully awkward in interviews, with one meme-inspiring moment after another. There’s even a rumor that he was blacklisted by Bugatti for being so awkward. And it just might be true.

2006 was a big year for Cruise. He married Katie Holmes in a Scientologist ceremony (and professed his love for her in the infamous “couch jumping” interview). His Mission Impossible franchise was hitting its stride with the critically acclaimed M:I-3. And he had just taken delivery of one of the very first cars by the resurrected Bugatti brand: a Veyron. All three of these things came together in an epically awkward moment, that might have have gotten Cruise banned by Bugatti.

Instead of just renting a limo, the star drove his Veyron to the M:I-3 release red carpet. He parked at a jaunty angle in front of the photographers, got out, flashed his signature smile, then swaggered around the car to open Holmes’ door. He grabbed the chrome handle and yanked…and nothing happened. While continuing to smile, Cruise spent the next 40 seconds trying different ways to open the supercar’s door.

I have no clue exactly what happened here. But it appears that Cruise said something to Holmes, then waited for at least ten seconds for her to find the interior lock. Finally, he opened the door and offered her a hand out of the car.

Tom Cruise stands next to his Bugatti Veyron on the red carpet and waves.
Tom Cruise’s 2005 Bugatti Veyron | L. Cohen/WireImage via Getty Images

While video of the awkward moment went viral, most felt that “things happen.” It was a new supercar and the couple was still getting used to its quirks. But rumor has it Bugatti took offense. The story goes that the brand, which hadn’t made a car in decades, worried viewers would assume its build quality was at fault. It’s solution? Ban Cruise from ever buying a Bugatti again.

Yahoo Autos, Slash Gear, Lad Bible, The Things, and dozens of other online outlets reported the story as fact. Auto Evolution covered it, but specified that the ban is just a rumor. Everyone cited Marca, a Spanish-language sports newspaper. And Marca doesn’t reveal its secret sources. Here is Marca’s take:

“The reason for Bugatti’s decision dates back to 2006, at a massive event where Mission Impossible 3 was premiering and Cruise arrived with a spectacular entrance…After several attempts, Cruise finally managed to open the door of the Bugatti Veyron, before the eyes of thousands of people present, including international press, as well as the millions of viewers who took the moment with humor, although that was not how the car brand saw it.”


Did Bugatti ever make a statement that Tom Cruise was banned from buying its cars? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Here’s the scoop: Almost all automaker bans on specific celebrities are just rumors. Few automakers are willing to announce that someone or another can never buy their cars again. There’s no PR upside to such an announcement. In addition, there are many levels of bans. Ferrari, which is famous for its blacklist, definitely has some internal lists of celebrities and collectors who are on its bad side. If these folks contact the OEM for a custom special edition, they’ll be waiting for a call back indefinitely. But they may be able to walk into a dealership and buy one on display. There are others who the OEM has warned dealerships about, though these folks could pick a used Ferrari up at auction.

The most recent lists of Tom Cruise’s car collection don’t list any more Bugattis. But perhaps that’s just because he doesn’t like the cars. One possibility is that the budding brand was considering Cruise as some kind of ambassador, even if that just meant giving him discounted cars, but decided not to after the locked door incident. Marca could have gotten wind of these conversations and called it a “ban.” But we’ll probably never know for sure.

Next, read how Jay Leno blacklisted Ferrari right back, or see Tom Cruise handle an F1 race car in the video below: