updated 01/23/2008 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/24/2008 AT 8:25 AM ET
Tom Cruise has been taking a beating in the press lately, but several of the star’s pals are standing up for him.
Adam Sandler tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement, “To see anyone’s private life invaded and mocked like this is sickening. It’s especially gross when it happens to a guy like Cruise, who’s a great dad, a great husband, and a great friend.”
Earlier this month, Andrew Morton’s scathing biography of Cruise hit shelves; meanwhile, a pro-Scientology video starring the actor hit the Internet and became the butt of jokes. But many of Cruise’s friends and colleagues are not laughing.
Dustin Hoffman, Cruise’s Rain Man co-star, tells PEOPLE: “Tom Cruise is an American and has the right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
Dan Snyder, the Washington Redskins owner who has a financing deal with Cruise/Wagner Productions, is also defending the star. “Tom is a winner. That’s a fact,” Snyder writes in an e-mail. “He is a terrific actor, a terrific father and a terrific person. I’m proud to be his friend.”
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, other stars – including Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and mogul Harvey Weinstein – also speak out in defense of their friend. “Imagine having a baby and people talking about it the way they did,” says Stiller. “People lose sight of the fact that Tom Cruise is actually a person. I feel for him.”