If you can bank on one actor not to be out of the news for long, it’s Tom Cruise. From his religious pursuits to relationship ups-and-downs, the A-lister is never far from the limelight. Just last week, he made headlines when he broke his ankle jumping across London rooftops for the next Mission: Impossible film. But it is this passion for his projects and the way he – literally – throws himself into his roles that has made Cruise one of the most celebrated actors of his generation.
This week, the 55-year old’s latest, American Made, is released – and tells the tale of TWA pilot Barry Seal, an opportunist who began working for both the CIA and Pablo Escobar simultaneously. Gentleman’s Journal have taken this opportunity to look back at Cruise’s back catalogue – which includes three Oscar nominations, seven Golden Globe nods and more stunt work than you can shake a stick at.
Charlie Babbitt, Rain Man, 1988
In this road trip movie about an autistic savant and his callous brother, Cruise arguably takes a back seat to Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond – for which Hoffman won an Oscar. But Cruise is an indispensable half of this double-act, playing Charlie as confused and both economically and emotionally desperate.
Maverick, Top Gun, 1986
In a role Cruise recently announced he would be reprising, Tom Cruise plays Maverick in the cult classic Top Gun. With electrifying airfights and a particularly over-analysed volleyball scene cementing the film in movie history, Cruise’s performance as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is the cornerstone of the action drama.
Jerry Maguire, Jerry Maguire, 1996
Although he was Oscar-nominated for his performance as sports agent Jerry Maguire, Cruise was actually second choice for the role. Tom Hanks was eyed first by director Cameron Crowe, but the film took too long to make, and Hanks grew too old. A good thing, too – as is may be the most iconic film of Cruise’s career.
Ethan Hunt, Mission: Impossible, 1996 onwards
Next year, Cruise will return for the sixth time as Ethan Hunt. And, whilst no character he’s every played has had a cooler name than his real moniker, Hunt’s IMF agent comes close. It’s not surprising that this is one of Cruise’s most impressive characters – he’s been playing him for over 20 years.
John Anderton, Minority Report, 2002
In probably the best film on this list, Cruise was directed by Steven Spielberg in a dystopian future where, as the ‘Chief of PreCrime’ John Anderton, he is framed for murder he hasn’t yet committed. If that sounds confusing, watch it – and marvel at Cruise and Colin Farrell’s antagonistic chemistry.
Roy Miller, Knight and Day, 2010
This may seem like a strange addition to the list – not least because the film was critically panned and pushed under Cruise’s career carpet. But, in a strange Bond-pastiche, high-octane action kind of way, we enjoyed Knight and Day, with Cruise’s wacky intelligence agent Roy Miller the main draw. Seriously, he’s a madman – just look to a scene where he kills everyone on a plane, then tries to use that ‘victory’ to woo Cameron Diaz.