Where does Tom Cruise live? Simple question—with anything but a simple answer. Based on tips from, among other sources, “a Brazilian woman who is quite possibly his most dedicated fan in the world,” writer Caity Weaver embarks on a journey to find the world’s most elusive movie star:

Cruise still takes part in promotional junkets and convivial late-night-talk-show chats, but his refusal to participate in the sort of in-depth journalistic interviews that (in theory, anyway) reveal some aspect of his true self has coincided, somewhat paradoxically, with an incredible surge in his commitment to infusing cinematic fantasies with reality. For unknown reasons it could be interesting to explore in an interview, reality has become very important to Cruise, who reveres it as a force more powerful than magic. It is vital to Cruise that the audience of “Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One” have the opportunity to witness not a C.G.I. production of a feat, or even a seasoned stunt performer executing a dangerous act, but real footage of him, Tom Cruise, the 61-year-old father of three from Syracuse, N.Y., riding a motorcycle off a cliff. 

This fetish for reality has become a keystone of Cruise’s persona, to the extent that many of his public appearances now take place in flying vehicles. Rather than accept an MTV Movie & TV Award in person in May, Cruise filmed his acceptance speech from the cockpit of a fighter jet as he piloted it through clouds, politely shouting, “I love entertaining you!” over the engine’s roar. Delivering “a special message from the set of @MissionImpossible” to his followers on Instagram, Cruise screamed while dangling backward off the side of an aircraft, “It truly is the honor of a lifetime!”

But reality does not exist only in movies. What is missing from Cruise’s fervid documentation of ultrarisky, inconceivably expensive, meticulously planned real-life events are any details about the parts of his real life that do not involve, for example, filming stunts for “Mission: Impossible” movies. My own mission, then, was simple: I was to travel to the ends of the Earth to see if it was possible to locate the terrestrial Cruise, out of context—to catch a glimpse, to politely shout one question at him, or at least to ascertain one new piece of intelligence about his current existence—in order to reintegrate him into our shared reality.