Tom Cruise is undeniably one of the greatest movie stars in the history of cinema, the type of big screen icon that many say are a dying breed. He can shoulder the weight of blockbuster franchises, deliver riveting performances, and pack movie theaters all around the world. Movies starring Cruise have generated over 10 billion dollars in ticket sales globally over the past four decades. Cruise has also earned three Academy Award nominations (Best Actor for Born on the Fourth of July, Best Actor for Jerry Maguire, and Best Supporting Actor for Magnolia).
Long before he ever ran in a film or said a single line of dialogue in a dramatic scene, Cruise was studying to be a priest. Upon being expelled from seminary school, he set out to pursue a career in acting. (He had already become infatuated with acting in high school after starring in the school's production of Guys and Dolls.) A bit part in the 1981 romantic drama Endless Love led to a scene-stealing supporting role in the drama Taps that same year. Soon, he would cement himself as a leading man. By the time Cruise slid across the screen and started to lip-sync "Old Time Rock & Roll" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band in the 1983 comedy drama Risky Business, there was no looking back. A star had been born.
As proof of Cruise's enduring star power, this summer saw the release of Top Gun: Maverick, his long-awaited follow-up to the Oscar-winning 1986 action drama, as Cruise films two new installments of the long-running Mission: Impossible series. As we look ahead to what's next for him, below, A.frame is revisiting the best of Cruise's filmography.
Cruise had only been in Hollywood for a couple of years when he was cast as Joel, the lead in Risky Business, a teenager cutting loose when his parents are away — who soon gets caught up in various risky escapades. First-time director Paul Brickman auditioned the likes of Kevin Bacon, John Cusack and Tom Hanks for the role, but ultimately chose Cruise.
Considering how seminal a role Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell played in Cruise's career to come, it's inconceivable that the hotshot fighter pilot was nearly played by... Matthew Modine?! Top Gun was an instant box office smash hit, becoming an enduring action classic (hence the sequel 36 years later). Top Gun received four Academy Award nominations and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Take My Breath Away."
Two of the most acclaimed dramas in which Cruise has starred were released in successive years: The Best Picture-winning Rain Man in 1988 and then Born on the Fourth of July the following year. In the latter, Cruise portrays paralyzed Vietnam veteran-turned-anti-war activist Ron Kovic. His performance earned him the first Oscar nomination of his career.
His nomination for Best Actor was one of the biographical drama's eight nominations. The film went on to win two Oscars, Best Director for Oliver Stone and Best Film Editing.
"Show me the money!" "Help me help you." "You complete me." Perhaps the most quotable movie Cruise has starred in, Jerry Maguire, a romantic comedy-drama written and directed by Cameron Crowe, sees the actor portraying a sports agent suffering a crisis of conscience. The film earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Cruise and Best Picture, and won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category.
A horror film to some and a beloved Christmas classic to others, the erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut was legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's final film. Cruise plays Dr. Bill Harford, a Manhattan doctor who, following his wife Alice's admission that she almost had an affair, embarks upon a dangerous night-long odyssey featuring a masked adventure amongst an ominous secret society. The film, co-starring Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Marie Richardson, Vinessa Shaw and Alan Cumming, was the third and final time Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman appeared on-screen together, following Days of Thunder (1990) and Far and Away (1992).
By then a bona fide movie star, Cruise took a rare supporting role in Paul Thomas Anderson's third feature film. A sweeping drama about coincidences, regrets, loss, longing, and crime and punishment, Magnolia features interconnected characters on one stormy day in the San Fernando Valley. The film's ensemble cast includes Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards, Philip Baker Hall, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Melora Walters and Jeremy Blackman. Cruise plays motivation speaker Frank T.J. Mackey, a part Anderson wrote specifically for him, and earned his third Oscar nomination (this time in the Best Supporting Actor category).
The early 2000s saw Cruise starring in a string of blockbuster hits with Mission: Impossible II, Vanilla Sky and this dystopian thriller, which is set in a future where the police arrest criminals before their crimes have been committed. Cruise plays a Precrime officer accused of a future murder. Minority Report served as a long-in-the-works collaboration between Cruise and Steven Spielberg, which would continue with 2005's War of the Worlds.
Cruise has built his stardom on playing heroes, but he is certainly more than capable of portraying villains from time to time. In Michael Mann's Collateral, he plays Vincent, a lone-wolf contract killer hired to go on a killing spree during one night in Los Angeles. Jamie Foxx plays Max, the captive cab driver driving him around the city so that he can carry out his hits. The neo-noir action thriller, co-starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem, was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor for Foxx and Best Film Editing).
Cruise is no stranger to the high concept action flick, but his crown jewel in the genre is arguably Edge of Tomorrow. Set in a future where aliens have taken over Europe, Cruise's Major Bill Cage finds himself stuck in a time loop with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) as they attempt to stop the invaders. A much-demanded sequel has been in various stages of development since the sci-fi action film was released in 2014.
Fallout is Cruise's sixth outing as superspy Ethan Hunt -- following the original 1996 Mission: Impossible, as well as M:I II, M:I III, Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation. Although all six have so much to appreciate, many would argue that Fallout is the franchise's best installment to date. (At least two more sequels are on the way.) Fallout features, among other elements, the most insane, death-defying stunts of the franchise thus far, which, of course, the astonishing star performs himself.