K A T I E H O L M E S :
The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes on motherhood, fame – and Dawson’s Creek
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
By Angela Mollard - Stellar Magazine
It's been a full 10 years since Katie Holmes was last in Australia, but it may as well have been a lifetime.
It was 2009, and she had moved here temporarily to shoot a film but, of course, all anybody really seemed interested in was her headline-grabbing marriage to Tom Cruise and their photogenic mini-me daughter Suri.
As the couple jogged the streets of Melbourne and played with their then three-year-old in the Royal Botanic Gardens, it seemed they really were as happy as Cruise had indicated when he literally jumped for joy on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa four years earlier.
But as she returns to Australian shores this week as the ambassador for McHappy Day, Holmes arrives carrying with her an entirely different experience of “family”.
The picture-perfect trio who willingly graced the covers of magazines is no more, and it’s an evolved, thoughtful and deeply private woman who speaks to Stellar in a rare interview.
Holmes may not say as much, but it’s clear that focusing on how she might be able to help other families is what’s helped her not only recover from the end of her six-year marriage to Cruise in 2012, but her subsequent reported split from actor Jamie Foxx, with whom she kept an incredibly low profile over the past few years.
Any discussion of either relationship is firmly out of bounds for Holmes. She prefers to dwell on her close relationship with her parents and siblings, a bond that has prompted her decision to fly halfway around the world to ensure families can be together when they’re coping with a sick or injured child.
“I feel very lucky to come from and to have the support of a large family – and to give my support to a large family,” she tells Stellar. “It’s such a gift to be able to have that around you at all times. My heart goes out to those families that are dealing with these challenges that seem insurmountable at times.”
Back home, Holmes is a regular visitor to children’s hospitals in Los Angeles and New York. “Those experiences have impacted me because I see the challenges that the families face,” she says.
She has also been surrounded by family in her own times of struggle. So McHappy Day – an annual fundraiser wherein McDonald’s locations nationwide set up donation buckets, sell special items and set aside a portion of proceeds from sales of certain menu items to support Ronald McDonald House Charities – deeply resonated with her.
“It’s so incredible to me the support that these families receive when their children are sick,” she says. “To be able to raise money to keep families together and also to provide teaching for the kids is really crucial to keeping their spirits up.
“I’m blown away by the fact that this started in 1991 and already it’s raised more than $46 million. I hope this year is a huge success, and we raise more than last year.”
Suri will not be at her side this time around, but Holmes says she is ensuring she understands the reason for her mum’s encore visit to Australia.
“My daughter and I do a lot of volunteer work together,” reveals Holmes, who took Suri to a Syrian refugee camp in Greece earlier this year.
While she rarely shares pictures of her daughter on Instagram, she showed images of Suri playing with the children at the Moria camp, which made headlines in 2018 for its poor living conditions.
“Children have a natural empathy towards others,” she says. “I enjoy volunteering with my daughter and hearing her point of view and listening to her suggestions on how we can help. It’s important to go and see for myself, and to be part of helping people in any way that I can.”
Plenty pegged Holmes an impressionable ingénue when, at 27, she met Cruise and became engaged to him a mere seven weeks later. But today the person speaking to Stellar is a mature woman who has navigated single parenting, midlife dating and a career that inevitably puts her in the spotlight.
And at 40, she has also become an accidental fashion hero after appearances in a series of outfits that subtly seemed to have repositioned her from “unlucky in love” to a show business style icon.
After years of keeping herself and her daughter out of the limelight, she’s been recently photographed in more risqué designs, including a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello black mini dress, which she paired with sheer tights and a red lip.
The Times in the UK hailed her an unlikely trendsetter and confirmed she had spearheaded the “sexigan” trend after she wore a $2200 Khaite cashmere cardigan and matching bra; they declared it “undefinably sexy and simple”.
Her friend, fashion designer Zac Posen, concurred: “I’m just digging everything about how... my dear friend is looking lately – super-hot, feeling good and making the style pages. She’s amazing.”
Holmes laughs shyly at the compliment. “That’s very nice, I don’t know what else to say,” she tells Stellar. “I just pick what I like wearing. I don’t have a lot of time to choose, but I go with classics and kind of throw it on and walk out.”
She’s a huge fan of Australian designers, particularly Zimmermann. As well as stepping out in the label’s leather pants and sexy black “espionage” dress, she also attended their recent runway show in New York.
“Their pieces are ones you pick out when you’re going to a dinner you’re looking forward to, a special occasion or a vacation. So you’re always in a good mood when you wear their stuff. You feel like the best version of yourself.” Holmes is also a fan of Ellery and Dion Lee, an Australian favourite of the Duchess of Sussex.
It’s impossible to interview Holmes and not wonder what lies beneath her polite and shy façade. Her Instagram is testament to a woman quietly building her own life and passions, which include reading, gardening and doing craft with her daughter.
But beyond that, she is largely a woman of mystery. What really ended her marriage to Cruise? What does she think about Scientology?
If some things remain unclear, what is very much clear is that Holmes has a deep connection with her 13-year-old daughter.
She says she’s like any mum and tries to listen well and focus on her daughter’s hard work, not the results of the hard work. She also wants Suri to grow up not just to open doors for herself, but others.
Her own mum Kathleen has been pivotal in helping her bring up Suri. “I have a really close relationship with my mum and a close relationship with my daughter,” says Holmes.
“I have taken advice from my mum in raising my daughter. I appreciate the bond that all of us have, and I appreciate more and more my own mother and the challenges she faced now that I’m a mum.”
Suri was recently seen clutching a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, which prompted critics to suggest the dystopian novel was perhaps better suited to older teens. Holmes’s take is simply that education “is the number-one priority in my house”.
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the same arguments as everyone else about time on devices. “Every parent is challenged by social media and the internet,” she says.
“I think for me it’s just limiting the amount of time for myself and for my child. It’s important to get out and live and not always be on your phone.”
As she marches into a new decade, Holmes is living life on her own terms. Her last public outing with Foxx was at May’s Met Gala; their apparent split came soon after. And as for professionally?
“I have a lot of projects on the horizon,” she says. In 2016, she directed the film All We Had, about a mother struggling with homelessness; now she’s about to direct two more movies – a coming-of-age mother/daughter story and a period drama.
She’s also looking forward to collaborating again with the producer who worked on The Gift, a movie she starred in with Cate Blanchett in 2000.
“I love doing all different types of things. I do things that are interesting to me and challenging, and things I haven’t done before,” she says.
“I also like to go from film to theatre because it’s a different daily rhythm, which is exciting in a different way. As an actor I always want to try to get better.”
She hopes to indulge her passion for theatre with a trip to the Sydney Opera House when she’s here, although she also recalls she loved just being on the harbour. “I love Australia and I’m really excited to go back, and because it’s been way too long.”
But her first commitment is to McHappy Day, and McDonald’s couldn’t be more delighted to have her as its ambassador.
“Katie hasn’t been in Australia in over 10 years,” says director of marketing Jo Feeney. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have someone of her calibre who is known for supporting children’s charities.”
When it’s pointed out to Holmes she’ll doubtless have to contend with lots of blokes turning up with their kids ostensibly to donate, but also to see their Dawson’s Creek crush, she laughs. She’s still as fond of her character Joey Potter as they are.
“I’m thrilled that people are fans of Dawson’s Creek,” she says, giggling. “I’m just so grateful that people still remember and that they enjoyed watching because we really enjoyed making it. I’ll be happy to see them.”
Katie Holmes will attend McHappy Day on Saturday, November 16.