Also Credited As:Thomas Cruise Mapother, IV
|Actor, Producer, Writer, Music, Executive|
|Thomas Cruise Mapother, IV on July 3, 1962 in Syracuse, New York, USA|
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Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was born on July 3, 1962, the only son of a hardscrabble family that would grow to include three sisters. Mapother III was an electrical engineer, abusive and prone to losing his jobs, which forced the family to move several times a year to look for work. Cruise was born in Syracuse but lived in Louisville, KY; Winnetka, IL; and Ottawa, Ontario before his mother finally had enough of her "bullying" husband. She left Mapother (and his last name) in 1974, taking her children back to her hometown of Louisville. Cruise was enrolled in a total of 15 schools during his nearly 12 years of education, and his constant outsider status - coupled with a diagnosis of the then little understood disorder, dyslexia - made school life a constant challenge. His mother worked three jobs to support a family of preteens, with many a Christmas coming and going without presents. Her determination to survive rubbed off on her hard-working kids, and her future movie star son would often cite her as a source of personal inspiration. Cruise spent his freshman year at a seminary boarding school in Cincinnati, OH on a scholarship. Despite appreciating the respite of stability he received at the seminary, he concluded that the priesthood was not for him. He settled with his mother and new stepfather in Glen Ridge, NJ, and started to pursue athletics at his new school until he suffered a knee injury during a wrestling match. In response to being sidelined, Cruise turned to the drama department, having been a lifelong movie fanatic and the family comedian. He was a natural, appearing in school productions of "Guys and Dolls" and "Godspell." With can-do determination, Cruise dispensed with high school during his senior year and instead headed to New York City in 1980, where he landed a job as a busboy and began hitting the audition circuit.
Still reeling from the 18-year whirlwind that was his life up to that time, Cruise's intensity and hunger for success left an overwhelming impression on commercial casting agents looking for fresh-faced, non-threatening teens to represent their products. Within a year, the peripatetic Cruise was in Los Angeles, where he met Paula Wagner, an agent at Creative Artists Agency who would subsequently guide his film career. After making his feature debut in a small role in the notorious Brooke Shields vehicle "Endless Love" (1981), Cruise gained attention for a supporting role as an increasingly lunatic cadet in "Taps" (1981). He had originally been cast in a small three-line role in the film, but the director was so taken with his intensity, that he bumped Cruise up to a more visible role alongside stars Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton. In 1983, a mere three years after bussing tables, Cruise burst onto the scene with four major studio features. His rough and tumble roots took hold as one in a pack of "Greasers" in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders," a melodramatic adaptation, but memorable for its gaggle of up-and-coming heartthrobs including Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon and Patrick Swayze. Cautious not to limit her client to typecasting as an angry rebel, Cruise's agent focused on his athleticism and boyish charisma with a role opposite "older woman" Shelly Long in "Losin' It" (1983), a middling coming-of-age comedy. "Risky Business" (1983), however, turned Cruise into an overnight sensation. In his portrayal of an anxious, affluent suburban teen poised precariously on the brink of adulthood, Cruise created a resonant protagonist for young Reagan-era audiences. He even put on some extra pounds to emphasize the softness and vulnerability of the character who flirts with illicit capitalism. In his star-making scene, Cruise, clad in a button-down Oxford shirt, boxer shorts, and Wayfarer sunglasses, played air guitar and danced wildly to Bob Seger's anthem, "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll." Audiences lapped it up, the Golden Globe Awards recognized him with a nomination, and it was enough to woo co-star Rebecca De Mornay, who embarked on a two-plus year relationship with the breakout star.
Cruise performed well in a more naturalistic mode in "All the Right Moves" (1983), a sober high school football drama which pitted him against hot-headed coach Craig T. Nelson, and fared modestly at the box office - a brief but full frontal nude shot of Cruise did not hurt returns either. His next move was not as wise for a growing sex symbol - growing his hair long and donning green tights for Ridley Scott's colossal fantasy flop, "Legend" (1985). Already ready to break the mold, however, Cruise solidified his star status and established his onscreen persona with the film most heavily identified with him: "Top Gun" (1986). With flying sequences cut to the rhythms of pop tunes, the film functioned as both a Navy recruiting ad and a glossy romantic adventure between Lt. Maverick and his Top Gun instructor, Charlie (Kelly McGillis). No longer the engaging boy-next-door, Cruise's Maverick was a prototype for Cruise roles to come - a cocky loner who plays by his own rules, confronts a crisis, and is then triumphantly transformed by his success. While "Risky Business" might have made him a known commodity, it was "Top Gun" that made him the biggest movie star in the world.
Cruise selected his next roles and planned his career carefully, teaming with talented directors and co-stars for "The Color of Money" (1986) and "Rain Man" (1988). The former, Martin Scorsese's sharply made, nicely textured sequel to 1961's "The Hustler," cast him as a talented but arrogant small-time pool hotshot opposite Paul Newman's Fast Eddie Felson. They made an eclectic pair, with Cruise's boisterous All-American boy versus Newman's seasoned con man, and though the older stud picked up the Best Actor Oscar, he was clearly passing the mantle to the younger stud. Off-screen, the actor fell in love and married actress Mimi Rogers in what was seen as an odd pairing, not due solely to the couple's age difference. The marriage lasted less than three years (1987-1990) but Rogers' legacy lived on through Cruise's lifetime affiliation with Scientology, which she introduced to her husband. In 1988, Cruise broadened his serious dramatic credentials with director Barry Levinson's "Rain Man," playing another self-centered hot shot who begrudgingly forges a relationship with his autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman), only to find it changes his entire outlook on life. Hoffman shone as the idiot savant and again, a Cruise co-star took home the Oscar, but Cruise was equally important to the Oscar-winning Best Picture equation and Hoffman pointed this out to anyone who would listen.
Time spent working with the politically-active Newman on "The Color of Money" had a profound consciousness-raising effect on Cruise, who next chose Oliver Stone's anti-war "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) to counter his contribution to the jingoistic "Top Gun." For Stone's "Fourth of July," he earned a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination for a hard-hitting portrayal of paraplegic Vietnam veteran activist Ron Kovic. Cruise stumbled a bit with his next two projects, but "Days of Thunder" (1990) did introduced him to the next love of his life, Nicole Kidman, and inaugurated a long-term association with screenwriter Robert Towne. Scalded by critics, it still raked in $166 million worldwide. In December 1990, the co-stars were married, making the then unknown Aussie actress a star overnight. But there was no upside to "Far and Away" (1992), a goofy period romance also co-starring Kidman and directed by Ron Howard. Cruise returned to box office clover by successfully confronting an iconic Jack Nicholson in Rob Reiner's court-martial drama, "A Few Good Men" (1992). Cruise's wunderkind lawyer bent on toppling his corrupt bosses in "The Firm" (1993) could have been a brother to his "A Few Good Men" character. Despite a stellar supporting cast including Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook and Holly Hunter, he carried the smooth adaptation of John Grisham's giant bestseller, tackling the deceptively difficult character with a vibrancy that led to box office success. The same year, Cruise and his agent Paula Wagner formed Cruise/Wagner Productions in an effort to garner the actor more creative and financial control over his projects. The production company negotiated an exclusive partnership with Paramount Pictures; a rarity at that time.
Cruise raised eyebrows - and more than a few hackles - by accepting the central role of the vampire Lestat in Neil Jordan's "Interview with the Vampire" (1994). Many balked at the idea of the All-American playing the decadent, ambisexual European predator of Anne Rice's novel. Rice herself was the harshest critic, as she traveled about the country trashing the casting decision while on a book tour. Sporting blond locks and blue contact lenses over his green eyes, Cruise eventually won Rice's approval, and the film earned mixed reviews while doing brisk business. In 1996, Cruise/Wagner Productions rolled out their first feature, the post-Cold War espionage "Mission: Impossible" (1996). Based on the nostalgic 1960s TV show, the project had languished in various development hells before Cruise became involved, and rumors abounded of his clashing with director Brian De Palma over budgetary and story matters. Nonetheless, despite international location shooting, high-tech stunts, computer-generated visual effects and last-minute rewrites by an assortment of writers (including Towne), "Mission: Impossible" came in on time and under budget at approximately $67 million, with Cruise deferring his $20 million actor's salary. Though many critics deemed it an extravagant but cold vanity production with a confusing storyline, most admired the cinematic technique, and the mixed reviews did not inhibit ticket buyers, proving the actor could attract crowds to a movie that did not even have to make sense.
The sweetly offbeat romantic comedy "Jerry Maguire" (1996), in which he played the shallow, back-stabbing sports agent, provided a sort of mid-career breakthrough for Cruise. For years he had portrayed irresistible smoothies, turning the world on with his smile while piloting fighter jets and driving race cars. Though it was a classic Cruise performance, bursting with the usual cocky charm, there was an added dimension of desperation and a new maturity to his screen persona. He had played characters who were up against the ropes before, but perhaps never so convincingly. This time, critics and moviegoers reached consensus, and Cruise garnered a Golden Globe win and his second Best Actor Academy Award nomination. Three years would pass before he returned to the screen, though in 1998, he and Wagner produced "Without Limits," screenwriter Towne's biopic about fabled long distance runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup).
Cruise took himself out of the blockbuster game at the height of his career to work on a series of riskier, more artful ventures, beginning with director Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," in which he starred opposite his wife for the first time since "Far and Away." The couple relished their time working with the cinematic genius who was known for his perfectionist, obsessive filmmaking vision. Little did they or anyone else know that the erotic thriller would be Kubrick's final work. The film was controversial for its sexual content, requiring editing to achieve an NC-17 rating in the U.S. Despite the fact that critics were divided over its merit, "Eyes Wide Shut" was a significant notch in Cruise's artistic belt and well worth the tens of millions of dollars he gave up as the 18-week shoot ballooned to 52 weeks over 15 months. Following the arduous shoot and mixed reaction to "Eyes Wide Shut," Cruise took on a pivotal role in Paul Thomas Anderson's ensemble drama "Magnolia" (1999). Playing a cocky sex guru who runs seminars designed to empower men, the actor offered a charismatic turn that was alternately chilling and humorous, earning him another Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.
Cruise segued back to leading parts in more mainstream work, reprising his heroic role as Ethan Hunt in the big-budget, special effects-laden "Mission: Impossible: II" (2000), directed by John Woo. The international espionage thriller centered around the containment of a deadly virus and grossed over $420 million dollars. With the actor's lucrative production deal, he enjoyed a $75 million pay day. Next, Cruise reunited with Crowe for a remake of the perception-bending Spanish film "Abre los ojos" (1997). It was during the making of that film, titled "Vanilla Sky" (2001), that Cruise endured a very public and acrimonious split from Kidman as he entered into a relationship with "Vanilla Sky" co-star Penelope Cruz. Cruise and Kidman later amicably worked out their divorce battles for their two adopted children's sake, but the initial split was bitter, with Cruise simply stating "Nic knows what she did" as his explanation for divorce just shy of 10 years of marriage.
"Vanilla Sky" opened to mixed reviews, seen as a competent and often compelling puzzle with a somewhat unsatisfying endgame. Cruise's performance as a successful publisher who finds his life taking a turn for the surreal after a car accident with an obsessive lover, was seen as appropriately intense, but perhaps a little over-the-top in his efforts to subvert his pretty boy looks with Hollywood-made scars. He returned to his more familiar, heroic territory with Spielberg's "Minority Report" (2002), a crackerjack collaboration filled with skillful action sequences and a thought-provoking expansion of sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick's premise of a future where police use precognitives to prevent murders before they happen. Playing Detective John Anderton, the head of the special unit who finds himself the subject of a manhunt after the psychics predict that he will commit a murder, Cruise was in top form on the run from his own officers. And as usual, Cruise insisted on doing almost all of his own stunts, lending even more authenticity to his action star status.
Cruise turned in one of his more nuanced performances for director Ed Zwick in "The Last Samurai" (2003), playing Capt. Nathan Algren, an alcoholic veteran of Custer's battles with Native Americans who travels to Japan to help Westernize the Imperial army, only to be captured by a rebellious samurai leader (Ken Watanabe). Although the film followed the slightly patronizing white-man-embraces-and-improves-indigenous culture template, Cruise's initial anguish and subsequent reclaiming of his soul was skillfully and subtly conveyed by the actor, earning him a Golden Globe nomination. His hot streak continued unabated with another of his finest roles, the coldhearted assassin Vincent, who hijacks a L.A. cabbie (Jamie Foxx) to drive him on his deadly rounds in "Collateral" (2004). Wearing a grey wig and beard stubble, Cruise used his trademark intensity to his advantage in a rare villainous role, while his inherent charm also gave the character a compelling quality.
In 2005, Cruise's personal life began to overshadow his professional career in a PR nightmare that would taint the leading man's reputation for years to come. After breaking things off with Penelope Cruz, for better or worse, he replaced his publicist of 14 years, Pat Kingsley, with his older sister Lee Anne DeVette, an active Scientologist. Since 1990, Cruise had been a proponent of the often mysterious, Hollywood-based Church of Scientology founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, having credited his studies there with "curing" him of the dyslexia, among other benefits. Cruise's affiliation had been generally accepted as a movie star eccentricity - that is, until he used his faith to back an attack on "Endless Love" co-star Brooke Shields, who had recently released a biography that described taking antidepressants to relieve her postpartum depression. Based on the Scientology belief that psychiatry is a "pseudo science" that "kills," Cruise publicly criticized Shields and suggested that vitamins would have been a suitable treatment for her diagnosis. Shields - not to mention legions of mothers, mental illness sufferers and the psychiatric community - were outraged.
The incident was followed by a curiously timed announcement that Cruise and actress Katie Holmes - who was 16 years younger than Cruise - were madly in love, though neither could give a direct answer to just when they had met and how long before declaring undying love to one another. Cruise's uncharacteristically animated antics and the couple's often unconvincing physical interaction fueled speculations that the romance was a massive publicity stunt, intended to offset the Brooke blunder and highlight the stars' upcoming summer film releases: Cruise, in the Steven Spielberg-directed "War of the Worlds" and Holmes in "Batman Begins." Cruise made a bizarre appearance on Oprah Winfrey's talk show (syndicated, 1986-2011) to proclaim his love for Holmes, jumping on the host's furniture and dragging a seemingly reluctant Holmes before the cameras. Holmes, who had been quoted years earlier as saying that as a girl she dreamed of marrying Cruise, presented him with a career achievement award on the MTV Movie Awards. Both appeared separately before David Letterman to further spin their love story. By all accounts, it was showy, uncharacteristic behavior for the actor who had a highly professional reputation onscreen and off. Rumors persisted that Holmes was one of several actresses who had basically auditioned for the role of Cruise girlfriend, in exchange for instant A-list ascension. There was no denying the speed with which the relationship took off, what with meeting in April 2005 and marriage proposal in June. The hard sell of how much "in love" they were with one another effectively backfired with a very skeptical public.
Much to the dismay of everyone involved with "War of the Worlds" - particularly Spielberg, who knew focus was no longer on his film; but on its star's latest public hijinks - Cruise continued to defend his attack on Brooke Shields in a sharply worded exchange with "Today Show" (NBC, 1952- ) co-host Matt Lauer. During the infamous exchange in which he continually called Lauer "glib," he aggressively derided psychiatry as a "pseudo-science," provoking a formal rebuke from the American Psychiatric Association. Around the same time he was also reportedly instrumental in opening up the secretive church and inviting journalists to sample its practices. Holmes began taking Scientology courses, and suspiciously dumped her Hollywood handlers in favor of his. Nearly lost in all of Cruise's public appearances was the release of "War of the Worlds" (2005), the fourth film adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells story. A mostly masterful exercise in cinematic suspense and terror, the film was buoyed by a strong performance by Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a working class deadbeat dad who must protect his two children during a horrific alien invasion. In spite of the media brouhaha - or perhaps because of it - "War of the Worlds" was Cruise's top-grossing film up to that time at over $590 million dollars worldwide.
The media saturation lasted beyond the run of the summer blockbuster, especially when it was announced in October that Holmes was pregnant with his child. In November, Paul Bloch replaced DeVette as Cruise's publicist, and though the move was reportedly made to enable his sister to focus on managing her brother's philanthropic affairs, it was perceived as damage control in light of the hit Cruise's image had taken since her installment. For a spell, Cruise's outlandishness seemed quelled until an episode of the animated series "South Park" (Comedy Central, 1997-), which satirized Scientology and made not-so-veiled jokes questioning Cruise's sexuality - a persistent rumor that had dogged the actor since he sued several parties in 1998 and 2001 for publishing allegations of his homosexuality. Under pressure from its parent company Paramount - also Cruise/Wagner Productions' parent company - Comedy Central yanked the episode after only one airing, lead to speculation that Cruise exerted his power behind the scenes; an assertion that was publicly denied. The show's fearless creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were not afraid to call out Cruise on his power play, which was being dubbed "Closetgate" by the Los Angeles Times. They even took out ads, proclaiming tongue-in-cheek that they themselves were "servants of Xenu" and that the "million-year war for Earth" had only just begun, presumably now that their show had been screwed with backdoor deals.
After months of fawning and speculation, Cruise and Holmes - dubbed "TomKat" by a smug media - had a baby girl named Suri on April 18, 2006. The high-profile pregnancy was followed by the virtual disappearance of Holmes from public and an absence of baby photos, inspiring conspiracy theories that perhaps Holmes was not, in fact, pregnant. Meanwhile, Cruise began making the media rounds for his next film, "Mission: Impossible III" (2006). The third installment in the franchise depicted a retired Ethan Hunt (Cruise) living a slower-paced life while training new IMF agents until he is called back to action to do battle with Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international weapons dealer who may turn out to be Hunt's toughest adversary yet. The film's opening weekend receipts fell short of expectations and a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that only 35 percent of those surveyed held a "favorable opinion" of the actor, the vast majority voicing disapproval over his Scientology proselytizing and the incident with Brooke Shields.
Citing an apparent wane in Cruise's popularity, Paramount Pictures announced an end to its 14-year relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions on Aug. 22, 2006. In a bombshell heard round the world, Sumner Redstone, Chairman of Viacom, (Paramount's parent company), declared Cruise's recent conduct had "not been acceptable to Paramount." Hollywood insiders surmised that Paramount's decision was purely financial, as the Cruise/Wagner cut of box office and DVD sales was well above the norm and affecting the studio's profits. Meanwhile Cruise/Wagner Productions claimed that they had recently landed financing from a private investor and had been planning to split from Paramount anyway. In September, another bit of coincidentally-timed publicity took attention away from Cruise's business woes when Vanity Fair gave the public their first view of Suri in a Cruise family photo spread, shot by famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. In November, the couple were finally wed in a ceremony in Italy, and news of the wedding was paired with another happy ending - Cruise/Wagner Productions had struck a deal with MGM to run the ailing United Artists Films.
Back at work and with his nuclear family firmly in place, Cruise seemed poised to put the previous 18 months of turmoil behind him and resume his status as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. The first release from CEO Wagner and producer Cruise was Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs" (2007). Cruise took a co-starring role as an ambitious senator in the highly-anticipated film, which sought to explore tough issues about the war in Afghanistan through three interconnected storylines. Despite the timely subject matter and the additional star power of Redford and Meryl Streep, "Lions for Lambs" came and went without much fanfare. Cruise then delivered a finely tuned comic performance in a small, but memorable role as a foul-mouthed studio executive in "Tropic Thunder" (2008), which earned him a surprise Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He then had his first starring role in a major studio release in some time, playing real-life Nazi conspirator Claus von Stauffenberg, who plots with other high-level members of the German Resistance to assassinate Adolf Hitler, in "Valkyrie" (2008), directed by Bryan Singer. Though Cruise was seemingly perfect - he was a dead-ringer for Stauffenberg - there were considerable risks playing the part, namely trying to make a Nazi empathetic onscreen while rehabilitating his shattered public image off-screen. Cruise returned to more familiar territory with "Knight and Day" (2010), playing an international super-spy forced to flee the United States with a dangerous piece of technology, while receiving a helping hand from an unsuspecting Midwestern woman (Cameron Diaz). Despite the requisite media blitz, appeal of its two stars and the promise of slam-bang action, "Knight and Day" fizzled at the box office amidst mixed critical reviews.
At the time, it seemed as though Cruise's star had forever fallen, as the damage from the controversy spawned by his "Oprah" visit and bizarre defense of Scientology appeared to be permanent. With nothing left to lose, Cruise went back to his most widely recognized franchise to reprise IMF agent Ethan Hunt for "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (2011), directed by Brad Bird. This time, however, the results were extraordinary; not only was the fourth "Mission" the best reviewed, but it also raked in the most international box-office dollars. In "Ghost Protocol," Hunt and his IMF team members are labeled terrorists intent on starting a global nuclear war after a bomb destroys the Kremlin, forcing them on the run. The fourth installment was widely praised for its exciting action and eye-popping visual effects, but most importantly, the actioner's success marked a badly needed resurgence for Cruise, who found himself back on top once again. For his next film, "Rock of Ages" (2012), an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical about the glory days of 1980s hair bands, Cruise played front man Stacee Jaxx, though his rekindled star power was not enough to turn the maligned film into a hit. Meanwhile, news broke in June 2012 that Cruise and Holmes were divorcing after five years of marriage. While the shocking announcement spread like wildfire across the Internet, both Holmes and Cruise maintained that it was a personal matter in order to protect their daughter. The end of the year saw Cruise returning to his action roots as "Jack Reacher" (2012), a highly skilled ex-military cop drawn into a case involving a deadly shooting spree. Clearly planned as the first entry in a new potential franchise for Cruise, the violent thriller was based on a series of popular crime novels by Lee Child.
In 2013, Cruise dove all headlong into science fiction, starring in the highly stylized futuristic movie "Oblivion," with Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman as mysterious characters tied to his protagonist's fate. While the production wasn't a huge hit, it appealed to many fans of the genre, particularly for Cruise's solid performance and its impressive visuals. That year, he also filmed the action-heavy alien-fighting tale "Edge of Tomorrow" (2014) with Emily Blunt, with its original title, "All You Need Is Kill," altered to the less-violent alternative.