By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and actress Katie Holmes settled their divorce on Monday, taking less than two weeks to end a nearly six-year marriage that captivated the world and prompted questions about raising their daughter in the Church of Scientology.
"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise, 50, married Holmes, 33, who first gained fame on television drama "Dawson's Creek," in a glamorous wedding in an Italian castle in November 2006. Suri was born about six months earlier.
The couple and their young daughter became a favorite of celebrity magazines and seemed happy until late last month when Holmes filed for a divorce in New York. Her move surprised fans and even Cruise, who was in Iceland shooting a movie.
Since then, the media has speculated that the pair differed on raising 6-year-old Suri as a Scientologist, although neither they nor their attorneys would comment on the matter.
"The case has been settled and the agreement has been signed. We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life," Holmes attorney Jonathan Wolfe of New Jersey-based firm Skoloff & Wolfe said in a statement.
Cruise lawyer Bert Fields also released a statement saying, "Tom is really pleased we got there, and so am I."
But there was no direct comment from either of the stars. Instead, they issued a statement ahead of the announcement.
"We are committed to working together as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter Suri's best interests," the pair said in a joint statement. "We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents."
Representatives and attorneys for both actors declined any comments beyond their statements.
HIGH PROFILE, SPEEDY SETTLEMENT
Paul Talbert, a family law attorney with New York-based firm Chemtob Moss Forman & Talbert, called the speed of negotiations and settlement - Holmes initially filed for divorce on June 28 - fast for such a high-profile couple with abundant assets.
"Cases with so many moving parts do not routinely resolve themselves in a matter of 10 days. We obviously have one or two extremely motivated people," Talbert said.
He added it was difficult to speculate accurately about settlement details, and added that media coverage about Cruise and Scientology likely played a role in the speedy finish.
"Nobody wins in a messy public battle, and you certainly have two concerned parents here that recognized Suri definitely loses if this is a public divorce," Talbert said.
Cruise, who rose to stardom in 1983's "Risky Business" and became a major box office draw with 1986's "Top Gun", continues to thrill audiences. His most recent "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" sold nearly $700 million worth of tickets worldwide following its release in December 2011.
But he generated a storm of criticism in the mid-2000s during media interviews in which he attacked the use of prescription drugs to treat psychiatric conditions. His opposition to psychiatry was rooted in Scientology, considered a religion by backers and a cult by detractors.
On talk show host Oprah Winfrey's program in 2005, he jumped on her couch declaring his love for Holmes, only to be pilloried in the press for his out-of-character display of affection.
Holmes, meanwhile, has appeared in several movies and TV shows including mini-series "The Kennedys," but her career has seemed to take a back seat to Cruise and to raising Suri.
Since she filed for divorce, however, an interview she gave six months previously to Elle magazine for its upcoming August edition seemed to indicate she wanted to refocus on work.
"He has been Tom Cruise for 30 years," she told the magazine. "I know who I am and where I am and where I want to go, so I want to focus on that."
Holmes' marriage to Cruise was her first. Cruise had been married twice previously to actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, with whom he adopted two children. Both those marriages ended in divorce.
(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio)