by: By: Jessica Fera, WPXI.com Updated:PITTSBURGH,None - Filming for "One Shot," starring Tom Cruise, is under way in Pittsburgh, and the production's need for a helicopter pad brought the Hollywood star and the movie's Oscar-winning director to the Channel 11 studios for a week in October.
The extremely cool-looking choppers, flown by locally-owned Cherokee Helicopter Service, transported Cruise, director Christopher McQuarrie, and other various crew members back and forth from a movie location in Saltsburg.
Cruise was very nice and extremely approachable, posing for pictures each day with small groups of excited employees who'd gather outside when they'd hear his chopper landing. He even signed autographs and made small talk while waiting to take off.
Video: Tom Cruise Takes Off In Helicopter From WPXI-TV
Cruise told us that in addition to his starring role as Jack Reacher, he's also one of the film's producers and has been putting in 18-hour days, which include fight scenes in machine-made freezing rain. While temperatures in Pittsburgh have mostly stayed in the 50's and 60's this fall, conditions on the set are so cold, Cruise said, that he has his own personal Jacuzzi to warm him up between takes, and said he's even battling hypothermia.
So how does Cruise spend the little time he has when he's not on set? Working on his lines isn't his biggest concern, Cruise said, the physical demands of the role are what he finds most challenging.
While Cruise was always quick to strike up a conversation off-camera, when we asked him for an on-camera interview he declined, saying he's "running on all four cylinders" and wasn't up for an interview.
McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for one of my favorite films, "The Usual Suspects," was happy to go on-camera, however, and started off by explaining to me how "One Shot" ended up in Pittsburgh.
Video: 'One Shot' Director Christopher McQuarrie Talks Pittsburgh, Tom Cruise
"Pittsburgh chose us," McQuarrie said. "Apparently the city has very good incentives for coming and shooting here. We compared this city to all of the other potential cities we could shoot in and it just made the most sense. Crews here have a great reputation and the city itself has been very accommodating so there wasn't even a distant second choice."
So after filming here for a month, is Pittsburgh living up to his expectations?
"We've had a great time," McQuarrie said. "The city has been really accommodating and they've helped us with everything we need. Obviously, we've been making quite a racket and they've been very helpful. And the local crew and the local actors as well. We've hired a lot of local people to be in the film and they've just been fantastic."
"One Shot" is only McQuarrie's second movie in the director's seat, but he wrote the screenplays for "Valkyrie" and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" (in theaters December 2011), which both star Cruise. So did he write the adaptation of "One Shot" with the actor in mind?
"No, I wasn't," McQuarrie said. "Only because that would've been too good to be true. I just wrote the script trying to be as faithful as I could to Lee Child's novel and when Tom said he wanted to do it that was sort of the best of everything."
Many fans of the best-selling series are in an uproar over the casting of Cruise as Reacher, who in the books is described as an imposing figure at 6 foot, 5 inches and somewhere between 210 and 250 pounds with a quiet, stoic demeanor.
For the skeptics, McQuarrie has a message.
"I invite them to come and see the movie and I guarantee they're going to be happy. We have their feelings very much in mind," he said. "I think the fans of the book are going to find an incredibly faithful adaptation of the book itself and an incredibly faithful adaptation of the character. And fans of movies are just going to find a great movie."
Off-camera, Cruise agreed; eager to discuss the great talent that signed on for the film, throwing in some positive words about the female-lead, British actress Rosamund Pike, and Australian actor Jai Courtney, who happened to be at WPXI that day.
"It's going to be a great movie," he said.
Being a child of the 1980's and a big fan of Cruise's early works such as "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder" and "Cocktail," I had to ask McQuarrie about the rumors that he was approached by Paramount to pen the script for a "Top Gun 2."
"I'm not involved," McQuarrie said with a smile.
While McQuarrie, Cruise and the rest of the "One Shot" crew won't be stopping by Channel 11 on a daily basis any more, they will be filming the movie in locations throughout Pittsburgh through January. It's set to hit theaters in February 2013.
To read more about Cruise's visits to our station, and what his wife, actress Katie Holmes, and daughter, Suri have been up to in Pittsburgh, check out See & Be Seen Carly Noel's blog.
Exclusive: Tom Cruise, Director Christopher McQuarrie Talk ‘One Shot' In Pittsburgh
Man charged with trying to lure young girls in Beaver County
SWAT team called to incident in Avalon
16-year-old dies after shooting in Northview Heights courtyard
Woman suffers broken leg during strong-arm robbery at Rite Aid