Tom Cruise Surprises Steven Spielberg

07/17/2006 at 07:00 AM EDT

Tom Cruise Surprises Steven Spielberg
Cruise and Spielberg in Chicago on July 15
Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise returned to Chicago – site of where he famously jumped on Oprah Winfrey's sofa to declare his love for Katie Holmes.

This time, however, his visit was to declare his admiration for Steven Spielberg during a surprise appearance at a Saturday night Chicago International Film Festival gala honoring the moviemaker.

Cruise reportedly was unaccompanied at the event, and there was no talk of Holmes or their daughter, Suri.

Walking out from the wings and handing Spielberg the Gold Hugo award after festival founder Michael Kutza kidded that he couldn't find it, Cruise spoke of his admiration for the director of Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List and Cruise's own War of the Worlds.

"I had the great pleasure of meeting Steven," Cruise said, reports CBS News. Then, addressing Spielberg directly, he added: "You took me to dinner when I was a young actor. I've seen every one of his films many, many times. I actually study his films."

And though there had been reports that Spielberg, 59, and Cruise, 44, had clashed over the star's behavior while on the promotional trail for last summer's War of the Worlds – during a Today show interview, Cruise notoriously lashed out at Brooke Shields over her use of anti-depressants to treat her postpartum depression – there was no sign of any friction between the two men on Saturday.

The ceremony at the Sheraton Chicago included clips of Spielberg's work, along with comments by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Roy Scheider as well as video presentations by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jude Law, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, and John Williams.

Said Spielberg, according to the Chicago Tribune: "Every time I go to something like this, it really reminds me that I haven't made my Lawrence of Arabia yet – I haven't made my Grapes of Wrath yet. It makes me hungry. I will go home from this with a healthy appetite to keep working."

• With reporting by Daniel S. Levy and Kelly Williams

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