"I first met him while he was in the midst of editing Tootsie (one of the all time classics)," Cruise, who later worked with Pollack in 1993's The Firm, said in a statement released early Tuesday morning. "I'd seen every one of his pictures and he generously took the meeting."
Cruise, who was then an up-and-coming actor, recalled how the famed director – who also was involved in Eyes Wide Shut – took more than six hours to answer all of his questions.
"Throughout the years, unpretentious and never condescending, he shared with me what he loved about family, storytelling, food, flying and a great bottle of vino," Cruise said. "He was a Renaissance man and a great friend. I will miss him dearly."
Music and entertainment mogul Quincy Jones also issued a statement about his friend, whom he first worked with in 1965.
"I am so deeply saddened by the news of Sydney Pollack's passing. I considered him a friend and brother long before I scored his first film The Slender Thread in 1965, and I am proud to say that our close friendship remained intact right to the end."
Like many who worked with Pollack, Jones also praised Pollack's humanity as well as his work. "[His] immense talents as a director were only surpassed by the compassion that he carried in his soul for his fellow man. We've lost not only one of our greatest filmmakers, but a great human being. My deepest sympathies go out to his wife Claire and his daughters Rebecca and Rachel.
Nicole Kidman, who worked with Pollack on four films including Cold Mountain, Eyes Wide Shut, The Interpreter and Birthday Girl, also issued a statement remembering her friend and mentor.
"Sydney is irreplaceable to so many people. He was elegant, a gentleman, smart and generous, a wonderful actor, a great cook ... a true connoisseur of life. He guided me artistically and personally, not just as a director or producer, but as a mentor and a friend. I will miss him terribly."
Barbara Streisand, another one of Pollack's leading ladies, who starred in his 1973 film The Way We Were, praised him as a "a great actor's director because he was a great actor."
She added: "He knew how to tell a love story. And he was a very good friend."