ROME -- Tom Cruise made an eight-hour stopover in Rome at the world premiere of "Mission: Impossible III," greeting a modest sized but enthusiastic crowd before rushing back to the U.S. to return to fiance Katie Holmes and their week-old daughter Suri. Cruise played up the fatherhood angle with the crowd, at one point descending the steps of a stage to retrieve a blue and white teddy bear thrown there by a fan and conducting the rest of the interview with it in his arms.
The crowd half filled Rome's massive Piazza del Popolo and it was subdued until Cruise arrived. Other stars on hand included Oscar-winning co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays the main villain in the film, and director J.J. Abrams.
Early in the day, Cruise said his own "Mission: Impossible" was leaving Holmes and Suri behind to make it to the premiere. "I didn't want to leave Suri and her mother behind," Cruise said during an impromptu press briefing. "Leaving them was my own 'Mission Impossible.' "
Cruise, who was dressed in all black, later worked the red carpet -- signing autographs, posing for photos, and accepting kisses -- before leaving for the official premiere of the film in a fleet of Lamborghini Spyder cars, the same vehicles used in the filming, and then taking off for Rome's Fiumicino Airport to jet home before the film began.
Cruise was accompanied on the trip by his two adopted children: Isabella, 13, and Connor, 11.
Cruise traveled to Rome several times in the last year for the filming of "Mission: Impossible III." And it was a year ago when Cruise and Holmes made their first public appearance in April 2005 at the David di Donatello Awards, Italy's top film awards presentation.
Jesse Hiestand writes for The Hollywood Reporter.
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