17 May 2020

Tom Cruise

With his charismatic smile, American actor and producer Tom Cruise (1962) became the most successful member of the Brat Pack, Hollywood's golden boys and girls of the 1980s. Top Gun (1985) made him an action star, but with his roles in The Color of Money (1986), Rain Man (1988) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) he proved himself to be an all-round star and an excellent actor. During the 1990s, he continued to combine action blockbusters like Mission Impossibe (1996) with highly acclaimed dramas like A Few Good Men (1992), Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and Magnolia (1999). He received more praise for his roles in Minority Report (2000) and Collateral (2002) and for years, he was one of the highest paid actors in the world. Although he continued to score major box office hits with the Mission Impossible franchise, his later work was overshadowed by his outspoken attitude about Scientology which alienated him from many of his viewers.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
Italian postcard by Danrose, no. 660. Photo: Fotex / R. Drechsler / G. Neri.Tom Cruise in Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986).

Tom Cruise
French postcard, Réf. 542.

Tom Cruise
British postcard by Heroes Publishing Ltd., London, no. SPC 2894.

Tom Cruise
British postcard by Box Office, no. BOPC 3038. Photo: Herb Ritts, 1986.

Tom Cruise
French postcard, Réf. 525. Photo: Herb Ritts.

Film-trivia infamy

Tom Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in 1962 in Syracuse, NY. He is the only son of Mary Lee (Pfeiffer), a special education teacher, and Thomas Cruise Mapother III, an electrical engineer. He has three sisters: Marian, Lee Anne De Vette, and Cass.

In 1974, when Cruise was 12, his parents divorced. Young Tom spent his boyhood always on the move, and by the time he was 14 he had attended 15 different schools in the U.S. and Canada. He finally settled in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, with his mother and her new husband.

Deeply religious, he enrolled in a Franciscan seminary with the ambition to join the priesthood. He dropped out after one year. At high-school, he was a wrestler until he was sidelined by a knee injury. Soon taking up acting, he found that the activity served a dual purpose: performing satiated his need for attention, while the memorisation aspect of acting helped him come to grips with his dyslexia.

Moving to New York in 1980, he studied drama at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, in conjunction with the Actors Studio, New School University, New York. He signed with CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and began acting in films.

His film debut was a small part in Endless Love (Franco Zeffirelli, 1981), starring Brooke Shields. It was followed by a major supporting role as a crazed military academy student in Taps (Harold Becker, 1981), starring George C. Scott and Timothy Hutton.

In 1983, Cruise was part of the ensemble cast of The Outsiders (Francis Ford Coppola, 1983). The Hollywood press corps began touting Cruise as one of the 'Brat Pack', a group of twenty-something actors who seemed on the verge of taking over the movie industry in the early 1980s.

Cruise's first big hit was the coming-of-age comedy Risky Business (Paul Brickman, 1983), in which he entered film-trivia infamy with the scene wherein he celebrates his parents' absence by dancing around the living room in his underwear. From the outset, he exhibited an undeniable box office appeal to both male and female audiences.

Cruise played the male lead in the dark fantasy Legend (Ridley Scott, 1985) and the action film Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986) with Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer. Top Gun (1986) established Cruise as an action star.

However, he refused to be pigeonholed and followed it up with a solid characterisation of a fledgling pool shark in The Color of Money (Martin Scorsese, 1986), for which co-star Paul Newman earned an Academy Award. In 1988, he played the brother of an autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman in the drama Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988). However, Cruise had not yet totally convinced critics he was more than a pretty face while he also starred in Cocktail (Roger Donaldson, 1988), which earned him a nomination for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor.

His chance came when he played paraplegic Vietnam vet Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July (Oliver Stone, 1989). For his role, he won a Golden Globe Award and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business (1983)
Canadian postcard by Canadian Postcard, no. A 193. Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business (Paul Brickman, 1983).

Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves (1983)
Canadian postcard by American Postcard, no. F25, 1984. Photo: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves (Michael Chapman, 1983).

Tom Cruise in Cocktail (1988)
French postcard by Edition Erving, Paris, no. 743. Tom Cruise in Cocktail (Roger Donaldson, 1988).

Tom Cruise
Spanish postcard in the Collección 'Estrellas Cinematográficas' by Cacitel, no. 59, 1990. Photo: Andrea Jaffe Public Relations, Los Angeles, USA.

Tom Cruise
French postcard, no. C 72.

Undercutting his own leading man image

In 1990 Tom Cruise renounced his devout Catholic beliefs and embraced The Church Of Scientology claiming that Scientology teachings had cured him of dyslexia that had plagued him all of his life. He was introduced to Scientology by his ex-wife Mimi Rogers.

Though Cruise's bankability faltered a bit with the expensive disappointment Far and Away (Ron Howard, 1990) with his then-wife Nicole Kidman, A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner, 1992) brought him back into the game.

By 1994, the star was undercutting his own leading man image with the role of the slick, dastardly vampire Lestat in the long-delayed film adaptation of the Anne Rice novel Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994), opposite Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas. Although the author was vehemently opposed to Cruise's casting, Rice famously reversed her decision upon seeing the actor's performance, and publicly praised Cruise's portrayal.

In 1996, Cruise scored financial success with the reboot of Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma, 1996), but it was with his multilayered performance in Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996), that Cruise proved once again why he is considered a major Hollywood player. For Jerry Maguire, he won another Golden Globe and received his second Oscar nomination.

According to IMDb, Cruise is the first actor in history to star in five consecutive films that grossed $100 million in the United States: A Few Good Men (1992), the thriller The Firm (Sydney Pollack, 1993), Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (Neil Jordan, 1994), Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma, 1996) and Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe, 1996).

1999 saw Cruise reunited onscreen with Kidman in a project of a very different sort, Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1990). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "The film, which was the director's last, had been the subject of controversy, rumour, and speculation since it began filming. It opened to curious critics and audiences alike across the nation and was met with a violently mixed response. However, it allowed Cruise to once again take part in film history, further solidifying his position as one of Hollywood's most well-placed movers and shakers. Cruise's enviable position was again solidified later in 1999 when he earned a third Golden Globe and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a loathsome 'sexual prowess' guru in Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)."

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
French postcard by Edycard, no. 08. Photo: Tom Cruise in Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986).

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
French postcard by Edycard, no. 29. Photo: Tom Cruise in Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986).

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
French postcard, no. 1062. Tom Cruise in Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986).

Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
French postcard, no. 1063. Tom Cruise in Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986).

A cloud of negative publicity

In 2000, Tom Cruise scored again when he returned as an international agent Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible II (John Woo, 2000), which proved to be one of the summer blockbusters. Like its predecessor, it was the highest-grossing film of the year and had a mixed critical reception.

He then reteamed with Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe for a remake of the Spanish film Abre los Ojos/Open Your Eyes (Alejandro Amenábar, 1997) titled Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001) with Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.

Though Vanilla Sky's sometimes surreal trappings found the film receiving a mixed reception at the box office, the same could not be said for the following year's massively successful Sci-Fi chase film Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2001), or of the historical epic The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick, 2003).

For his next film, Cruise picked a role unlike any he'd ever played; starring as a sociopathic hitman in the psychological thriller Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004). He received major praise for his departure from the good-guy characters he'd built his career on, and for doing so convincingly.

He teamed up with Spielberg again for the second time in three years with an epic adaptation of the H.G. Wells alien invasion story War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005). The summer blockbuster was in some ways overshadowed, however, by a cloud of negative publicity. It began, when Cruise became suddenly vocal about his beliefs in Scientology, the religion created by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

Cruise publicly denounced actress Brooke Shields for taking medication to combat her postpartum depression, going so far as to call the psychological science a "Nazi science" in an Entertainment Weekly interview.

In 2005, he was interviewed by Matt Lauer for The Today Show during which time he appeared to be distractingly argumentative in his insistence that psychiatry is a "pseudoscience," and in a Der Spiegel interview, he was quoted as saying that Scientology has the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world.

This behaviour caused a stirring of public opinion about Cruise, as did his relationship with 27-year-old actress Katie Holmes. The two announced their engagement in the spring of 2005, and Cruise's enthousiasm for his new romantic interest created more curiosity about his mental stability. He appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he jumped up and down on the couch, professing his love for the newly-Scientologist Holmes.

The actor's new public image alienated many of his viewers. As he geared up for the spring release of Mission: Impossible III (J.J. Abrams, 2006), his ability to sell a film based almost purely on his own likability was in question for the first time in 20 years. Despite this, the film was more positively received by critics than the previous films in the series and grossed nearly $400 million at the box office.

Cruise moved on to making headlines on the business front when he and corporate partner Paula Wagner in 2006 officially "took over" the United Artists studio, which was all but completely defunct. One of the first films to be produced by the new United Artists was the tense political thriller Lions for Lambs (Robert Redford, 2007), with Redford, Cruise, and Meryl Streep. The film took an earnest and unflinching look at the politics behind the Iraq war but was a commercial disappointment. This was followed by the World War II thriller Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, 2008) with Kenneth Branagh and Carice van Houten.

Tom Cruise
British postcard by New Line, no. 64. Photo: Transworld B.V. Entertainment.

Tom Cruise in Rain Man (1988)
Italian postcard by Danrose, no. 676. Photo: MGM / Shooting Star / Grazia Neri. Tom Cruise in Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988).

Tom Cruise
French postcard, no. C 33.

Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire (1994)
British postcard by Exclusive Collectors' Artcard. Photo: Geffen Pictures. Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994). Caption: The Vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise). Ageless, Immortal and Evil, he is sustained through the centuries by the blood of countless victims.

The Mission Impossible franchise

Tom Cruise would find a solid footing as the 2010s progressed, with blockbusters like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011) and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie, 2015). He is known for doing many of his own stunts in these films, even exceptionally dangerous ones.

The Mission Impossible franchise earned a total of 3 billion dollars worldwide. Cruise reteamed with Cameron Diaz in the action-comedy Knight and Day (James Mangold, 2010). He starred as Jack Reacher in the film adaptation of British author Lee Child's 2005 novel One Shot (Christopher McQuarrie, 2012).

He also starred in big-budget fantasy projects like Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski, 2013) and Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman, 2014). Tom Cruise was married three times. His first wife was actress Mimi Rogers, with whom he was married from 1987 till their divorce in 1990.

His second marriage with Nicole Kidman from 1990 till 2001. They adopted two children Isabella Jane Cruise (1992) and Connor Antony Cruise (1995). He lived together with Vanilla Sky (2001) co-star Penélope Cruz from 2001 till 2004.

His 2006 marriage to Katie Holmes ended in divorce in 2012. They have one daughter, Surie Cruise (2006).

Recently, Cruise returned on the screen as Ethan Hunt in the sixth installment of the Mission Impossible series, Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie, 2018). In 2020, he will also return as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski, 2020), in which Val Kilmer will also reprise his role from the first film.

Tom Cruise
British postcard by Santoro Graphics Ltd, London, no. C243.

Tom Cruise
French postcard, no. PP 138.

Tom Cruise
Dutch postcard by Verenigde Spaarbank, Utrecht.

Tom Cruise
British postcard by Pyramid, Leicester, no. PC 8638, 1999.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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