1983’s “Risky Business” brought to the world Tom Cruise as a lead actor in a major motion picture for the first time. Since then, his acting and personal life have been nearly continual fodder for tabloids and more legitimate entertainment forums alike. He is a complicated figure who, despite a significant number of detractors, has proven to be an actor who can generate significant returns at the box office. While his acting style is not for all, he manages to communicate with an audience in a manner that draws them in and keeps their attention. His charm comes across on a movie or television screen and many viewers regularly enjoy watching him in whichever entertainment vehicle he chooses to attach his presence. What has been Tom Cruise’s impact on the entertainment field and what has made him such an endearing figure to so many?
Cruise entered the world in July of 1962 in Syracuse, New York. His childhood involved a great deal of moving about due to his father’s work and his parent’s divorce at age eleven eventually led him to drop his given last name, leaving only his first and middle names by which he became famous. Dyslexia in his developing years prevented him from excelling in academic work, but did not prevent him from finding success in more physical endeavors such as sports and theater. While injury kept him from pursuing a career as a professional athlete, it merely enabled him to find more time for the stage where he quickly prospered and found a permanent home. His early opportunities in film, which included roles in “Taps” and “The Outsiders,” prepared the foundation upon which his career would eventually take off. The notice he received in his early work enabled him to grab the leading role in “Risky Business” that was so essential for his success.
An accessible boyish charm has always been a part of the Tom Cruise experience and it was never so on display as in “Top Gun,” which established him as a high-level box office star. This iconic film continues to resonate today and showed that he was prepared to act opposite the leading lights in his field. “The Color of Money” matched Cruise against Paul Newman, while “Rain Man” saw him acting with Dustin Hoffman. These opportunities to work with great lead actors helped Cruise to widen his acting range and gave him the confidence to take on edgier fare such as “Born on the Fourth of July.” His portrayal of a war-damaged veteran produced not only popular acclaim, but the kind of critical acclaim that all actors crave. Cruise proved that he could not only generate revenue at the box office, but that he also was an actor who could portray deep emotion and produce a wide range of emotions in an audience.
Marriage to Mimi Rogers in 1987 was a watershed event in Cruise’s personal life. Rogers introduced Cruise to the religious philosophy of Scientology which has had a marked affect on his acting and personal life from that time forward. His commitment to Scientology has led to issues in his personal relationships and in his professional associations, but he has remained committed to this unique system of thought. His time with Rogers was short-lived, but she was far from the last woman in his life. His work in “Days of Thunder” and “Far and Away” introduced him to Nicole Kidman whom he would marry and later work with again in Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.” Cruise enjoyed significant box-office success during the 1990s in movies such as “A Few Good Men,” where he worked with Jack Nicholson, “The Firm” and the oft-quoted “Jerry Maguire.” During this time, Cruise’s films became part of the jargon of popular culture and he took it to the next level by reviving “Mission Impossible” in a series of blockbuster films which included stunning action and clever dialogue.
Marriage to Kidman and maturity led Cruise to take on a number of diverse projects. He starred in movies as different as “Vanilla Sky,” “Minority Report,” “The Last Samurai” and “War of the Worlds.” His characters continue to come across as strong men who do what is necessary to make a way in the world regardless of the circumstances into which they find themselves. Though his time with Kidman exceeded that with Rogers, the marriage ultimately ended in 2001. Cruise made yet one more attempt at marriage with Katie Holmes in 2006, but by 2012 that union also was broken. In both of his latter marriages, Cruise’s strong personality, deep commitment to his career and continual involvement in Scientology eventually became too much for the couples to overcome and make a go of it. Throughout his successful career as a movie actor, like many before him, lasting success on a personal level has continued to elude Cruise. His professional success has earned him three Academy Awards and Golden Globe awards which are testimony to the impact that he has had as an actor and demonstrate how he has transcended being just a pretty face to become an actor recognized for excellence by his peers.
Recently Cruise has continued to develop the “Mission Impossible” series to wide acclaim. It has become one of the most well-received set of action movies of all time. His erratic public behavior and ties to Scientology have caused rifts in his professional associations and as a result he has become more and more involved in developing his own projects. Nevertheless, Cruise has continued to work and has starred in such fare as “Valkyrie,” “Jack Reacher” and “Oblivion.” He received significant critical acclaim for Valkyrie, while his introduction of the Jack Reacher character holds out promise for a series of movies to come. “Oblivion” is yet another example of Cruise’s interest in the Science Fiction genre which allows him to push the boundaries of what it means to be human. Tom Cruise will always be a figure who engenders a mix of criticism and acclaim. he has proven himself a consistent box-office draw who at the same time has the acting chops to put forth a performance of supreme skill when the role allows. His combination of boyish charm and acting depth have made him an actor whose appeal is truly world-wide and he should have many more years to bring exciting cinema to those around the globe.