"Three and a half years after the interview heard 'round the world, Tom Cruise is back in the studio, today," Matt Lauer said at the very top of Monday's Today show.
Lauer wasn't kidding. Hovering over Lauer and co-anchor Meredith Vieira as they were trying to open the morning program at 7 a.m. was Cruise, standing over their desk, even though the interview segment to promote his Christmas release Valkyrie wasn't slated until the 7:30 half-hour.
"Let's set the record straight," Lauer said before Monday's sit-down with his one-time on-air sparring partner. "This is not Rocky II."
But the two did finally clear the air – and discussed at length – their June 2004 confrontation, in which Cruise angrily accused Lauer of being glib during a discussion of Brooke Shields's use of anti-depressants to treat her post-partum depression.
Cruise also said that while he may not be discussing Scientology in current interviews – "I think there's a time and place for it," he said – he is still a follower. He also demurred when Lauer asked if Cruise and wife Katie Holmes were considering a sibling for 2-year-old daughter Suri.
"I think that's the question for the women," Cruise told him.
And while Lauer noted that Cruise is no longer "jumping on couches" – a reference to the star's performance on the Oprah Winfrey Show right after meeting Holmes – the Today host wanted to know if Cruise still felt giddy over Katie.
"She's an amazing woman," he said.
'I Came Across as Arrogant'But in terms of their previous Today appearance together, Lauer told Cruise that he received about 10,000 e-mails immediately after the interview, and wondered about the reaction on the star's end.
"Probably pretty much the same," said Cruise. "I went back, and looked at [the interview], and it was interesting."
Cruise said, "I thought about it a lot," and chalked up his passion at the time to the fact that the discussion concerned "a subject matter that's important. It's something that's been debated in the public, and that's what it should be."
Yet, he also said, he came across "not as I had intended. In looking at myself, I came across as arrogant. … I didn't communicate it in the way I wanted to communicate it. Also, that's not the way I am. That's not the person I am."
Cruise blamed part of his behavior on the timing, at "the end of a p.r. tour" for War of the Worlds. "A lot of stuff was going on," he said. "I learned a really good lesson."
2005: Tom & Matt go head-to-head over psychiatry
1997: Matt is PEOPLE's sexiest anchor!
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