The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes: Cool & Collected
INTERVIEW | She wouldn't change a thing -- except a few diapers
By Cindy Pearlman
She's dressed in de la Renta, dripping with diamonds and defined by the latest "Suri" hairstyle. But when you want to find the real Katie Holmes, you have to go to one of her favorite stores.
"I know how to push a cart at Home Depot," says Mrs. Tom Cruise. "I'm not a wimpy girl."
Naturally, there will be photo ops when Holmes checks out new molding. In her suite at the Casa Del Mar Hotel, the tall, thin Holmes just smiles without flinching. She's dressed in black creased pants and a starched white blouse. Her glossy brown hair is in a short bob with fringed bangs and her eyes are wide but determined.
"Yes, there is a lot of attention," she says. "I'm aware of what's out there. I married the biggest movie star ever. The attention came with the territory. But it's fine."
What does she think of that new scandalous Andrew Morton book, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, with all the ugly stories? "I'm just here to talk about my new movie," she says breezily.
The movie she's talking about is "Mad Money" (now playing at local theaters), in which she stars alongside Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah as three women who need money and try to rob the Federal Reserve Bank. Holmes is the wild, goofy one who, yes, pushes money carts all day. "She's diabetic. She's also naturally creative," Holmes says. "It was such a fun and different role."
It was also a nerve-racking one, because on the set in Shreveport, La., the paparazzi virtually set up camp. Some photographers were arrested after hanging out in trees by the set.
Director Callie Khouri says all the hubbub didn't disrupt filming.
"While we were shooting, I went to the local Target and saw a picture on our set of Katie holding [daughter] Suri looking at the ground," Khouri says. "The headline read: 'Tom and Katie Have Huge Blowup.' What really happened was Suri dropped her pacifier and Katie looked down."
Adds Keaton, "What I learned about Katie is beyond that obvious beauty there is a quiet intelligence and quiet curiosity to her. She also takes on more and more and more, which is amazing."
Holmes says her much-admired new 'do, peppered in the pages of every magazine on the stands, isn't really about being on some fashion A-list. "It was very easy to cut it all off. As the mother of a little girl, it's just so much easier to have shorter hair."
She says life with Cruise isn't all diaper-changing and mashed bananas for little Suri. What is a typical night for the couple of the moment? "Well, Tom has quite a motorcycle collection. It scares me to death," Holmes says. "But I also love it. We go out riding together, and it's great as long as I don't have to drive."
For now, she says life is resoundingly "normal" -- well, as normal as possible. "We go to the park. We were just in Berlin, and they have these beautiful parks," Holmes coos.
Then she frowns.
"Of course, the paparazzi were just crazy there," she says. "There was a lot of attention. Always attention. But I was impressed with their playground. It's amazing what you become aware of as a mother. You actually do think, 'Nice wood on that swing set.' "