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The Unexpected Way Rob Lowe And Tom Cruise Prepared For Their Roles In The Outsiders

The filming of Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of "The Outsiders" in 1982 would forever remain a seminal moment for the teenage and young adult cast members. Several major actors from the movie would become movie stars, including Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Tom Cruise (per CBS News). Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, and Dennis Quaid were all considered as well, meaning that even those rejected during Coppola's audition process would be viable film leads within the next decade (via The Guardian).

Coppola deliberately chose to make the production a collaborative process with his young cast. He asked Ralph Macchio to live on only five dollars a day so he could understand his character better, and Coppola also videotaped the entire film before shooting, showing the results to the ensemble so they could look for ways to improve their performances (per Variety).

But the cast still didn't know the extent to which Coppola wanted them to prepare for their roles.

Lowe and Cruise spent the night at a greaser couple's house

Rob Lowe was actually ready to quit acting before he landed "The Outsiders," certain that he wouldn't be able to have a steady acting career, according to Vanity Fair. Cruise meanwhile had only appeared in three films so far: "Endless Love," "Losin' It," and "Taps" (via IMDb). Both had some experience but neither of them expected Coppola's request for the cast to go spend the night in Tulsa, Oklahoma with real greasers the crew had found. 

Despite being paired with Cruise, who was always game for any task on the set, Lowe confessed that "the thought of bunking with a Hell's Angel that some production assistant found off the street has got me rattled" (per Vanity Fair).

However, Lowe was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and welcoming the greaser couple was. The pair served them dinner, and they swapped stories about acting and growing up in Oklahoma, Lowe recalled to Vanity Fair. Cruise and Lowe spent the night in their house, and Lowe ultimately came out of the experience feeling that he could make it as an actor after all. The next 40 years of success, including "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Parks & Recreation," would prove his intuition right.