The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

They took the day off to watch a movie. Tom Cruise crashed their date.

Tom Cruise makes a surprise appearance to celebrate “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One” at Regal Atlantic Station in Atlanta on Tuesday. (Derek White/Getty Images)
3 min

Ravi Khanna and his wife hadn’t been to a movie together in years.

They took the weekday off — an anomaly for two Washington professionals – to catch a 2:30 p.m. showing of the newly released “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One” on Tuesday. Khanna is a lifelong fan of the 27-year-old franchise and was thrilled to spend the day with his wife, watching the seventh installment in a series that inspired everything from his haircuts to his wardrobe in his 20s, he said.

But someone crashed their date: Tom Cruise, himself.

“My wife’s jaw dropped. I was elated,” Khanna, 47, told The Washington Post. “I remember squinting to make sure it’s really him. … It’s something I’ll always remember for the rest of my life. I felt like a kid the rest of the day.”

Cruise and the film’s director, Christopher McQuarrie, surprised fans like Khanna by suddenly taking the stage just before the film began at AMC Georgetown 14 in Washington. Cruise and McQuarrie surprised Atlanta fans later that same day.

Khanna shared a video with The Post of the appearance, but employees at the theater, perhaps sworn to secrecy by the movie franchise’s fictional spy agency, declined to confirm if the visit occurred.

“I didn’t hear anything about that,” a manager told The Post.

For Khanna, it was the moment of a lifetime. (And possibly the best date he’s ever planned, Khanna added.)

Khanna and his wife snagged tickets to the matinee about a month in advance — a testament to Khanna’s enduring love for the franchise. “Everything was about being Ethan Hunt, my version of it. I’d always rally my friends to go see the movies on opening days.”

When they showed up to the theater around 2 p.m., there was more activity than they expected: free popcorn, drinks, T-shirts and hats.

“My wife was like, ‘I haven’t been to a movie in a long time, is this how movies are now?’” Khanna said laughingly. His wife remained confused; Khanna figured that everyone else must be as excited as him for the new film.

As they walked into their showing room, a theater employee suspiciously told the couple that they’re in “for a real treat,” Khanna recalled. “I didn’t think twice. I’m eating it up.”

A number of men in suits were scattered throughout the room, the couple noticed. “It seemed a bit too formal for an AMC,” Khanna said. Still, he didn’t question anything.

Then there was a camera. “My wife’s asking, 'Is someone going to come out and say something?” Khanna said. The lights dimmed, and trailers began. Trailers for “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” seized the screen, suggesting business as usual. “It seemed like the movie is about to get started.”

The lights turned back on. Cruise and McQuarrie sauntered out of an exit door by the screen and took the stage with a mic. “Everyone’s just shellshocked. It wasn’t screaming. It was almost silent for a minute,” Khanna said. “Then it erupted.”

Cruise and McQuarrie thanked people for coming out, adding that it was great seeing people back in theaters, a business hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s great seeing you all. How are you?” Cruise said in the video Khanna shared with The Post. The crowd cheered. “You all enjoy the film. Have a great summer, okay?”

The actor and director stayed for a few minutes, and then the lights dimmed again, and the movie began.

“There was an element of shock, no question,” Khanna said. “I didn’t know how I was going to sleep that night.”

And, according to Khanna, the movie was fantastic. “Exactly what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be.”