BERLIN - Tom Cruise and the crew of his new film, "Valkyrie," held a minute of silence for German anti-Nazi heroes as the team prepared to film at the site where they were executed, a fellow cast member said in comments published Sunday.
In the movie, Cruise plays Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic army officer who was among those executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944.
The German government initially declined permission to film at the so-called Bendlerblock - part of the Defense Ministry grounds and now a memorial to the anti-Nazi resistance - citing concerns over "the dignity of the place." However, it reversed course this month.
On Friday night, the movie makers gathered at the site to start filming scenes, German media reported.
"Shortly before we started filming, screenplay writer Christopher McQuarrie, director Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise made short remarks and then asked for a minute of silence - out of respect for the place and out of respect for the life achievement of these people who were executed there," Christian Berkel, a German actor who plays fellow plotter Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was quoted as saying in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
"It was a very moving moment," he added.
The government's initial refusal to permit filming at the place where Stauffenberg worked and died led to speculation over whether Cruise's religious beliefs had triggered the decision. Officials denied that.
Cruise is one of Scientology's best-known members. The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people, and some critics have said one of its adherents should not be playing one of the Nazi era's few heroes.