Get Ready For Tom Cruise, Samurai Warrior

Actor teams with 'Glory' director for historical drama.

He's played secret agent, jet pilot, bartender, racecar driver, living-room-underwear-dancer and future pre-crime cop. But is the world ready for Tom Cruise, samurai?

The top-billed actor with the winning smile begins production this week on "The Last Samurai," with shooting scheduled in Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

"Glory" director Edward Zwick will again set his lens on the 1800s, with Cruise starring as an American officer recruited by the Emperor of Japan to modernize his country's warfare techniques.

In particular, he plans to phase out the country's samurai warriors. Once there, Cruise's character ends up becoming quite taken by the samurais and their art form, and, naturally, conflict arises.

"The Last Samurai" costars Billy Connolly ("White Oleander"), Tony Goldwyn ("From the Earth to the Moon") and Togo Igawa (credited as "naked Japanese man" in "Eyes Wide Shut") and includes a production team whose members have worked on Cruise's own "Vanilla Sky" as well as previous Zwick films "Legends of the Fall" and "Courage Under Fire."