He received Academy Award nominations in 1990 for Born on the Fourth of July, 1997 for Jerry Maguire and 2000 for Magnolia. He has been married twice, to Mimi Rogers, and later Nicole Kidman. He has now divorced Kidman and is currently involved with Penelope Cruz, the lead actress in Vanilla Sky. He is a well-known member of The Church of Scientology, a fact that has occasionally led to protests at openings of his movies in Europe.
There's a popular Hollywood saying. Question: Who can guarantee you a box-office smash? Answers: 1) Tom Cruise 2) Tom Cruise 3) That's it. Just look at the figures. Mission: Impossible - $180 million, A Few Good Men - $141 million, Rain Man - $172 million, Top Gun - $176 million, Jerry Maguire - $158 million, The Firm - $158 million, Mission: Impossible 2 - $215 million. These are conservative estimates, the true money made worldwide from Cruise's movies is infinitely higher. But it's not just the money, there's critical respect too. Oscars and Oscar nominations have rained down on Cruise productions. Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr, Jack Nicholson, Cameron Crowe, Holly Hunter, Oliver Stone, Barry Levinson, all of them have good reason to believe Tom Cruise is some kind of Oscar talisman. Do well next to Cruise and you've a fine chance of being short-listed.
Cruise's early life was so tough it's a bona fide
miracle that he's come so far. He was born Thomas
Cruise Mapother IV in Syracuse, New Jersey on the
3rd of July, 1962, to nomadic parents. His mother,
Mary Lee Pfeiffer from Louisiana, had married Thomas
Cruise Mapother III, an electronics engineer from
the University of Kentucky, whose job with General
Electric took them all over. Daughter Lee Anne was
born in Louisville, then Marian, Tom and Cass (a
third daughter) were born in Syracuse. Then they
moved to Ottawa, to Missouri, back to New Jersey,
and back to Louisville, before finally divorcing
when Tom was 12 (his father would soon die of
cancer). Mary Lee took the kids to live at
Taylorsville Road, Kentucky, where life was one hell
of a struggle. Young Tom was titular Man Of The
Family, but they all had to work, Tom putting his
newspaper delivery earnings into the general
coffers. At one point there was so little money that
Tom took a scholarship at the St Francis Seminary in
Cincinnati where, for a year, he studied for the
priesthood and, more importantly, ate properly.
Eventually, Mary Lee married again; Jack South.
There were more moves - indeed, by the age of 14,
Tom had attended 15 different schools - but,
eventually, they settled, Tom enrolling at Glen
Ridge High School, New Jersey. From here, he went
straight into acting.
Tom Cruise had actually first thought of acting around the age of five. Mary Lee was a teacher with a keen interest in amateur theatrics (his cousin William Mapother was an actor) and Tom would be taken regularly to the cinema. He loved it, but the constant movement made settling into anything next to impossible. Later he would say "Nothing was quick enough in terms of life for me". Tom, a dreamy, lonely child living much of the time in his own interior world, was always the New Kid, forced to prove himself endlessly, and this was made yet more problematic by both shyness and dyslexia. It's thought the latter was brought on by teachers demanding he write with his right hand but, whatever the cause, Tom found learning demanded a terrific effort as pages turned to meaningless blocks of weird scribbles before his eyes. Constantly challenged by his parents, making him exceptionally competitive, he was desperate to fit in - more, to win. So he threw himself into sports - wrestling, raquetball, ice hockey, everything. He wasn't particularly gifted but his intensity and hyper-energy made him difficult to resist.
What eventually drew him to acting was an accident. Suffering a knee injury while wrestling, it was suggested that he try his hand at school theatre productions. Being Cruise, he threw himself in at the deep end, with the musical Guys And Dolls (he'd soon also perform in Godspell), and immediately began to pursue excellence in the field. Typically, he gave himself a 10-year deadline to achieve success. At 18, he left Glen Ridge and moved to New York, supporting himself by working as a bus-boy, a porter in an apartment block and a table-cleaner at Mortimer's restaurant. In the evenings he took drama classes, auditioning for TV ads whenever possible. He looked good, he had that winning smile, but he was never hired. Casting directors always described him as "too intense". Feeding on hot dogs and rice, he lived, he now says "like an animal in the jungle".
As yet, Tom Cruise had no connections, but he did have
some advantages. Moving from state to state, he'd
found his need to fit in had caused him to pick up
the appropriate accent. He was always playing a
role. Then there was his charm. As the only son in
the family, he had grown up around women. Indeed, he
remembers his sister Marian's friends coming round
when he was just 6 or 7, sitting him up on the
kitchen sink and using him for kissing practice. He
says the first time he almost suffocated - but it
was fun. So he was easy around women, capable of
turning on the grace and charm (the very first
example being his winning of Laurie Hobbs at the
Sacred Heart School in Louisville), and this
confidence served him well.
While in New York, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV shortened his name to the far snappier Tom Cruise. He went to Los Angeles to audition for TV roles (there's a famous clip of him trying out with a very young Heather Locklear - neither got the part), but got none. He did though sign with the Creative Artists Agency and got film work. First was Endless Love, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, renowned for Jesus Of Nazareth. Brooke Shields starred but Cruise, way down the bill (with James Spader, also making his debut), had a foot on the ladder. Or not, considering the film was so dismal. Returning to New Jersey, he was surprised to hear he had another audition, for a one-line part in Taps, the tale of military academy students so loyal the fight to prevent its closure. Where before Cruise's intensity had been a drawback, now it made him. Director Harold Becker (who'd earlier made The Onion Field, and would later helm Sea Of Love and Malice) was so impressed by his test he lifted Cruise to third on the bill, as belligerent cadet Dick Shawn.
Holding his own alongside Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and even George C. Scott, Cruise was now headline material. Next came Losin' It, about four kids trying to lose their virginity in Tijuana (smooth Cruise gets an older, married woman), then the big one, Risky Business. Here Cruise played a smart teenager who, his parents out of town, gets tied up with a high-class prostitute and a bunch of shady figures. Wisecracking, dancing in his undies and sporting those classic Ray-Bans, he was a sensation (and he would, for a while, date his co-star Rebecca DeMornay).
Tom Cruise could have settled for this, used that killer smile to become the face of the go-getting, sharp-suited Eighties generation. Instead, he chose to work with another legendary director, Francis Ford Coppola, briefly joining the Brat Pack for The Outsiders. Then he starred in the slow, testing All The Right Moves, about a High School football star dreaming of scholarship and escape from his miserable Pennsylvania mill town. He was clearly attempting to widen his scope, next taking an even wilder shot with Ridley Scott's Legend, playing canny pixie Jack opposite Tim Curry's magnificent clomping demon.
Now came the first huge hit, Top Gun, with Ridley
Scott's brother Tony. Here Cruise was Pete
"Maverick" Mitchell, a slick and arrogant
fighter-pilot, extremely casual with the millions of
dollars-worth of hardware he's riding. Promoted with
Berlin's Take My Breath Away, it was a silly, macho,
flag-waving monster of a hit (particularly amongst
the gay community, though that's seldom mentioned)
but again Cruise was intent upon growing as an
actor, not simply as a star. Now he played Vincent,
the cocky pool-player who draws Paul Newman's Fast
Eddie (first seen in The Hustler) out of retirement
in The Color of Money.
As a willing foil, Cruise helped win Newman the Oscar, but Newman changed Cruise forever. A renowned worker for charity, Newman raised his consciousness and got him interested in car-racing (he drove for Newman's team and thus got the idea for his later vehicle, Days Of Thunder). And, inadvertently, he got him married, Cruise meeting actress Mimi Rogers (Someone To Watch Over Me, The Doors) at Newman's Road Racing Classic Show in Georgia. Having dated Cher and Melissa Gilbert, Cruise would be with Rogers (six years his senior) for three years. Together they would serve on the board of the environmentally concerned Earth Communications Office.
Having dared to play alongside Newman, now there was Dustin Hoffman, and Hoffman in a show-stealing Oscar role to boot. But it should be noted that Tom Cruise, as Charlie Babbitt, a flash yuppie who discovers a less superficial life with his retarded brother, was the one who made that film. Hoffman needed someone onscreen to react to him, to lend him humanity, to connect with the audience - and Cruise, his performance ignored in the rush to praise Hoffman's, did it brilliantly. Then came Cocktail. Director Roger Donaldson had just done the superior Kevin Costner thriller No Way Out, the producers were expecting an update of The Graduate; it turned out to be an empty-headed jumble (though Cruise made an impressive tequila juggler).
Yet Tom Cruise's trajectory was upwards, and now came Oliver Stone's Born On The Fourth Of July (something of a cheat, that, as Cruise was actually born on the 3rd). Here Cruise played real-life Vietnam vet-turned-anti-war-activist Ron Kovic, a man physically destroyed yet spiritually raised by the paralysis of his lower body. He won his first Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. He moved on to Days Of Thunder, again with Tony Scott. And his second wife. Cruise had come across Nicole Kidman at the premiere of her excellent Dead Calm. She amused him. Now, starring together, she won him completely, and he starred with her again in his next picture, Far And Away (directed by Ron Howard), about Irish lovers battling for a decent life on the American frontier. For Cruise, this tale was close to home as his great-great-grandfather, Dillon Henry Mapother, had moved from southern Ireland to Louisville back in 1850.
The movie was not a raging hit, but Cruise was by
now super-bankable. His presence made the fairly
average conspiracy flick The Firm into a smash.
Still, he was trying to shake his pretty-boy image,
be seen as the "actor-artist" he believed himself to
be. He worked constantly at this. On Days Of Thunder
he was so intense the crew dubbed him Laserhead. On
Far And Away, Ron Howard noted that he actually ran
to the toilet and back. He is NEVER late, and
demands the same professionalism from his
co-workers. So next he took on Interview With The
Vampire, as the murderous Lestat, drunk on power and
immortality. Fans of the book denounced this
casting, as did its author Anne Rice though, having
seen the picture, she made an abrupt u-turn,
claiming Cruise's Lestat would be remembered like
Olivier's Hamlet. His charm and intensity had
coupled well again.
Now it was massive hits all the way. Tom Cruise - cool, smart and pumped - made an excellent Ethan Hunt in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible. Then came Cameron Crowe. Cruise knew him already - Crowe had written Cruise's first ever cover feature, for Interview Magazine. Now a director, Crowe was working on Jerry Maguire, about a sports agent discovering his humanity while teetering on the brink of financial ruin. Cruise was brilliant - harassed, arrogant, sweet and triumphant - and again happily played second fiddle where necessary, to Cuba Gooding Jr ("Show me the money!"), Renee Zellweger ("You complete me"), and even toddler Jonathan Lipnicki. Another mighty hit, another Golden Globe, another Oscar nomination.
Now Tom Cruise took the chance to work with another of the great directors. Along with Kidman, he spent three years on Stanley Kubrick's slow, ultra-considered Eyes Wide Shut. Sadly, the film was a little TOO considered for most and, oddly, Cruise gained more respect and attention for his far shorter role in Magnolia. As Frank TJ Mackey, a rabble-rousing male therapist, he was tremendous - posing, cajoling, demanding ("Respect the c---!"). And he was moving, particularly beside his father's (Jason Robards) death-bed. Deservedly, there was another Golden Globe, and another Oscar nomination - that Michael Caine pipped him was nothing short of outrageous.
Mission: Impossible 2, with John Woo, was another mega-hit. Then it was back to Crowe with Vanilla Sky, a "rock'n'roll" remake of the Spanish weird-out Open Your Eyes - Cruise had bought the remake rights after seeing the movie with production partner Paula Wagner, then got Crowe involved. It's worth noting that Cruise was now such a massive star that the film's poster was simply a picture of his head and shoulders beside a list of words reading "Love, Hate, Dreams, Life, Work, Play, Friendship, S--". Completely meaningless, that list, when it comes to explaining what the film was about, but it absolutely did not matter. Everyone was only going to see Cruise anyway.
The movie featured Tom Cruise as a New York playboy,
the inheritor of a publishing empire, in a bizarre
love triangle with Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz
(herself the star of the original). Then there's a
car accident and everything goes mad - Cruise is so
horrifically scarred he spends the rest of the movie
in a mask. It actually went mad for Cruise %u2018n'
Cruz in real life too. After the movie wrapped, the
media went into feeding-frenzy at the news that
Cruise had split with Kidman after 10 years of
marriage (they have two adopted children - Isabella
and Connor) and begun seeing Cruz. Tom and Nicole
tried to keep a lid on it, but it was impossible,
what with Cruise having to attend the premiere of
Kidman's The Others (directed by Amenabar, Cruise
had produced the film - no doubt as part of the Open
Your Eyes/ Vanilla Sky deal). Of course, everyone
was interested in the splitting of Tom and Nicole's
mighty fortune, and fascinated when Kidman revealed
that in March, 2001, one month after Cruise filed
for divorce, she had suffered a miscarriage.
Next came Minority Report, a sci-fi thriller from the pen of Philip K. Dick (screenplay by Frank Darabont of Shawshank Redemption fame), about future-cops who, with the aid of Pre-Cogs (weird, bald types who float in big tanks and see the future) can arrest criminals before they commit their crimes. Cruise played the head of Washington's Pre-Crime unit, who's himself accused and pursued by rival Colin Farrell. Adding Steven Spielberg to Tom's incredible list of directors, it was hugely inventive stuff, action-packed but still teeming with intelligence, Spielberg having got together some of the deepest minds in America to help build his future-world. It cost over $100 million yet, with Cruise attached (unlike Spielberg's relative failure A:I), it still made money.
For his next project, Tom Cruise would step back in time with The Last Samurai. Here he was Nathan Algren, a US cavalryman and hero of the American civil war, who's invited to modernise the army of the Emperor of Japan, then under threat from the samurai warriors of a rebel leader. He agrees but, captured by the enemy, he learns and comes to respect their codes of honour (in return teaching their children baseball). It was an interesting premise, and expertly filmed by Edward Zwick - after Glory a veteran of major battle sequences - yet many found it a little too close to Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves for comfort. As ever, Cruise drove the film to success, promoting it with huge vigour. In the process, he became the first man ever to appear on Marie Claire's front cover, and publicly sang Elvis Presley's I Want You, I Need You, I Love You with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Cruise's next project would be on a far smaller scale, when he teamed up with Michael Mann for Collateral. Here cab driver Jamie Foxx played an LA cabbie who picks up a fare only to discover the guy's a hit-man. This is Cruise, probably the world's most charming assassin, who then forces Foxx to drive him around town as he carries out his bloody work. Can Foxx out-wit this deadly fellow and perhaps save himself and the final victim?
Surely Tom Cruise will soon direct himself. He did helm an episode of TV series Fallen Angels back in 1993 and is a producer too, having worked on both Mission: Impossibles, plus Without Limits (directed by Robert Towne, writer of Chinatown, and The Firm, Days Of Thunder and the Mission movies), Narc and The Others.
Tom Cruise began a highly publicized relationship with actor Katie Holmes in 2005. In June, two months after they first met, he became engaged to Holmes.
Endless Love (1981)
Outsiders, The (1983)
Losin' It (1983)
Risky Business (1983)
All the Right Moves (1983)
Top Gun (1986)
Color of Money, The (1986)
Oysters of Sri Lanka (documentary, 1988)
Rain Man (1988)
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Days of Thunder (1990)
Far and Away (1992)
Few Good Men, A (1992)
The Firm (1993)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Mission Impossible (1996)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Mission Impossible II (2000)
Vanilla Sky (2001)
Minority Report (2002)
The Last Samurai (2003)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
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