Tom vs. Katie: Who had most to lose?

REUTERS FILE

REUTERS FILE

Michael Rechtshaffen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:23 PM ET

In the space of just 10 days, the divorce that had the whole world talking became the divorce settlement that had the whole world talking.

If those kept-under-wraps details regarding the terms of the Cruise-Holmes settlement seemed to have been hammered out in record time, when you considered what was at stake, there was an extremely limited window for damage control.

Obviously the last thing either party wanted was for the divorce to become a public spectacle for the sake of six-year-old Suri.

But unlike most other divorces where child custody was a primary concern, their daughter wasn't the only one who would stand to suffer from any protracted courtroom drama.

As noted before, Cruise is a notoriously private, famously image-driven individual who, in the past, has taken great pains to exercise control over his public persona.

Coming at a time when his once-stellar career has taken some notable hits (Rock of Ages, Knight and Day, Lions For Lambs), anything that might have cast him in an unfavourable light as both a husband and particularly a father could have put an effective end to the livelihood of the man who recently topped the Forbes list of highest-paid actors.

Cruise is currently shooting the big budget sci-fi thriller, Oblivion, while the crime-drama Jack Reacher, already being touted by Paramount, arrives in theatres this Christmas in the same slot occupied last year by Cruise's comeback smash, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

But even bigger than the both of them is that elephant in the room known as Scientology.

In filing divorce papers against Cruise, Holmes knowingly took on an institution that has historically been even more fiercely protective of its brand than its most renowned, high-ranking member.

Any courtroom scenario that would have shone a spotlight on Cruise's carefully guarded practices at a time when Scientology has already been dealing with a slew of bad press generated by the recent defection of many disenchanted members, could have spelled a public relations nightmare for L. Ron Hubbard's 60-year-old religion.

Considering all that was on the line, Cruise's legal team didn't have a moment to lose.


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