J.J. Abrams turned to Cameron Crowe for advice on working with Tom Cruise before they began filming Mission: Impossible Iii in a bid to calm his nerves about directing the acting icon.

The 2006 action epic marked Abrams' feature debut as a director and he was so worried about butting heads with the superstar, he called on Crowe - who helmed Cruise's Vanilla Sky and Jerry Maguire - for tips on how to manage the hunk on set.

He tells Playboy magazine, "Before I started, I called Cameron Crowe, whom I know, and asked him his advice, since he'd made two movies with Tom. He just said, 'Brother, you are going to be spoiled.' I was like, 'All right,' not quite knowing what he meant."

Abrams was pleasantly surprised by Cruise's professionalism and he's now got nothing but praise for the actor.

He says, "I now know he (Crowe) was right. Tom is the hardest-working, most focused, generous, passionate-about-the-form collaborator I could imagine. He's someone who gave me my first shot directing a movie. No one would have done that but him.

"It was a huge first movie to do, but I was never scared. I was always excited about it because I felt everything I had been working on was sort of preparing me for that. And Tom made it an amazing experience. I was a first-time feature director, and before we started shooting Tom said, 'I'm your actor; you're the director.' I remember being warned by a number of very experienced people in the business that a producer-star with a first-time director gets really ugly, so get ready. I'll tell you that there was not a day on that movie when Tom was not supportive, encouraging, collaborative, excited. He never mandated anything. He never insisted on things going a certain way. There was nothing I ever asked him to do that he wouldn't do. There were things I asked him not to do because he was so willing to put himself physically in danger. I would be like, 'There's not a f**king chance you're going through that window. If you get cut...' But he was always about the better idea."

And despite Cruise's controversial allegiance to Scientology, Abrams insists the actor never pushed his personal beliefs on others while on set: "He has never in any way mandated or tried to push any of that. You heard stories that there were Scientology tents and things on War of the Worlds. That never existed in my experience with him, ever. All I will say is that he's got a huge heart, and he's a generous and good guy."