Tom Cruise Turns the Big 5-0 -- A Look at His Most Memorable Roles

Yahoo Contributor Network

Life is never all good, or all bad. That axiom applies to celebrities as well. Just ask Tinseltown titan Tom Cruise. He's facing one nasty custody battle for Suri, his daughter with estranged wife Katie Holmes, and the press is already abuzz at over the details of the breakup. Yet, today is still a big day for Tom Cruise because he's turning 50 years old.

In honor of today being such a momentous occasion, we figured we'd give Tom a reprieve from all the negative energy and take a look at some of his most memorable roles form his long and noteworthy career.

Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun" - For many, his portrayal of the elite Navy fighter pilot in this film is what he'll be always remembered most for. The film is a high-octane action film with heart-racing jet fighter sequences. It's easily one of the most quotable films of the 1980s, and Cruise's performance as the rebellious and cocky Maverick helped propel his career to even greater heights.

Jerry Maguire in "Jerry Maguire" - In 1996 it was nearly impossible to go thirty minutes without some random person yelling "Show me the money!" on television. Cameron Crowe's story of a career-obsessed sports agent who goes through an existential crisis was another pivotal role in Cruise's career. Tom's chemistry with then relative newcomer Renee Zellweger was electric, and his chemistry with Cuba Gooding Jr. was equally as powerful.

Ethan Hunt in The "Mission Impossible" Film Series - Through four iterations now, Cruise has played the lead character in the action and spy thriller series based on a classic TV show. If it's an action film that requires some smirk-filled dialogue and intense staring into a camera, you're going to do well to cast Tom in the lead, as he's proven time and again in this franchise, he can handle that kind of work all day every day.

Ron Kovic in "Born on the Fourth of July" - It's no small task to play a paralyzed Vietnam veteran in an Oliver Stone picture, especially when you're an actual person. But Tom certainly equal to the task. It's not an easy film to watch, but not because of the performances or Stone's direction, but because Kovic's story is so riveting, and is so emotionally powerful that it certainly makes an impact. The role proved that Tom was capable of taking on very layered and complex subtext within his acting and pull it off.

More from this Contributor:

Jenny McCarthy on the Cover of Playboy at 39 -- Plus a Look at the Magazine's Mature Cover Girls

3 Reasons We Love Louis C.K. -- and You Should Too!

Iconic Screenwriter Nora Ephron Passes Away at 71 -- a Look at Her Most Memorable Work

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