Love him or hate him, the man has been an untouchable movie star for as long as we can remember. Now smashing the box-office with his latest blockbuster, Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise has come full circle, returning to the role that made him a megastar 36 years ago.
But off-screen, the dude has been making controversial headlines for decades. From his baffling relationships to cringeworthy publicity stunts, his devotion to Scientology has had fans all over the world torn with how they feel about him. On one hand he’s this incredibly talented actor and producer, wowing audiences with crowd-pleasing and iconic movie stunts… but on the other hand, he believes in a religion that has been defined as a dangerous cult and a manipulative profit-making business. This is a hard pill for fans to swallow, unless they’re Scientologists, of course.
Perhaps, out of all the characters Tom Cruise has entertained us with, the role of the Scientologist is the one we least like, and the one in which most people just cannot connect with. But leaving judgement on his life choices aside, here is what we can still love about the one, the only, Mr Tom Cruise.
1. He Makes Mavericks of All Men
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, woop woop! You get an invitation for a fancy dress do! You’re beside yourself. Hmm, what shall you be? Malificent? Elle Woods? Wonder Woman? Then your husband brings all your excited energy crashing down to earth with this response; “I’m just gonna go as myself.” Ugh. Not up for the whole dress-up malarky, are you? Well, thank you Top Gun for giving us Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. What fella (and I mean the type of fella who insists on going as themselves to a fancy dress party) can’t be won over with a bit of Maverick? And it couldn’t be more simple. The 80s Air Force uniform aka boiler suit and a white t-shirt. Oh! Not forgetting the aviators! Plus, there’s no denying it. He’s gonna look hot as hell. Tom Cruise, we are forever grateful.
2. He’s a Peter Pan
Pushing 60, you gotta admit; the man looks good. And yeah, he’s minted. He can afford all the laser surgery and Botox that Tinseltown has to offer. He probably has his own Michelin-starred chef to pour anti-ageing milk over his cornflakes in the morning. But isn’t there something positive about youthful looking grown-ups? Something…hopeful? It can be really sad to see our childhood heroes getting older, especially when they’ve spiralled into depression or suffered from illness. So it’s inspiring to see men like Tom Cruise keeping fit, healthy and looking pretty damn great. It helps us to overcome the fear of ageing and believe that it is just a number, and nothing should stop us from evolving, achieving and living our lives to the max.
3. He’s Great On Graham Norton
It’s the chat-show everybody wants to be on. Graham’s guests have such a giggle, it creates some serious FOMO just by watching clips on YouTube. He pours them their drink of choice and manages to spill the very best beans in a relaxed environment, making superstars seem much more human. More like us. There are certain celebs who truly excel on Graham Norton’s show (and interviews in general), and alongside the likes of Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, is Tom Cruise. He is open, warm and magnetic, always looking at the other guests when he speaks, including everybody at all times. A host like Graham Norton allows his guests to be themselves, and Tom Cruise comes across very genuine and lovely, plus, his passion for his work makes him an action hero both on and off the screen.
4. He’s Saved the Movie Industry
For years, and especially since the Pandemic hit, cinemas globally have struggled. Many believe that going to the movies will soon become a thing of the past. Heartbreaking, right? Where will our kids go on their first dates?! But never fear, Tom is here! Top Gun: Maverick has literally saved cinema. As of June 12, 2022, it has grossed $395.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $353.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $748.9 million. The ScreenCrush review said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that made me think, ‘How did they do that?!’” And Empire Magazine described it with, “slick visuals, crew camaraderie, thrilling aerial action, a surprising emotional wallop and, in Tom Cruise, a magnetic movie-star performance as comforting as an old leather jacket.” He’s brought the summer blockbuster back. And going by it’s 97% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, hopefully, it’s here to stay.
5. He Put Dubai Firmly On the Map
Okay, so Dubai didn’t need a Hollywood movie star to do this. But, hey, Tom Cruise went and did it anyway. Brilliantly, I might add. He’s well-known for doing his own dangerous stunts, but when the character of Ethan Hunt climbed the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, holding onto the windows with only a pair of suction gloves, then rappelled down the 123-floor skyscraper ending with a jump of faith, it became a landmark in the history of cinema. But it was no easy task! The safety harness Tom wore cut off his circulation, meaning they had to shoot the whole sequence as quickly as possible before his lower body went numb. Now that’s dedication to his craft. Not only as a fearless stuntman but also as an actor.
6. He Can Brighten Up a Wet Weekend with Cringe
He declared his love for Katie Holmes by jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa. He discussed the benefits of Scientology in a strange, surreal video that was leaked onto the internet. He danced in his pants (thanks to Risky Business). He went for the dip-kiss with Katie Holmes on the red carpet in 2005. He has sued the news, multiple times. He lost his cool when a reporter squirted him with a water pistol. He broke his ankle during filming a stunt for Mission Impossible - Fallout, but just continued with the take because he didn’t want to do it again. He reprised his weirdest film role from Tropic Thunderduring a bizarre dance at the 2010 MTV Awards beside J-Lo. Seriously, do you need me to go on? Because I can…
7. He Brushes With Death For His Art
So we’ve already discussed the broken ankle and the “show must go on” saga, not to mention almost cutting off his circulation hanging off the world’s tallest building, but Tom Cruise has a list of injuries taller than the Khalifa itself. Reflecting on his career, he’s admitted, “I have a lot of broken bones.” And Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada came within a centimetre of chopping off Tom's head while filming The Last Samurai. He was swinging a real sword during a scene when Tom Cruise’s mechanical horse malfunctioned and did not fall down as planned. Sanada said that when he finally stopped the sword, the blade was a mere half inch from Cruise's neck. That’s a mere half inch from his head flying across the set! His Mission Impossible co-star Simon Pegg said, “He’s always hanging out around the monitor - after hanging off an airplane - worried about me doing a fistfight which isn't particularly scary. He cares about everybody else.”
8. He’s the Last Of His Kind
It’s very clear that Tom Cruise is mysterious. Which also aches of romance. His kind of celebrity harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when stars were one way on the outside, and another on the inside. They were beautiful. Magnetic. They had deep, dark secrets. They could be cruel. Or kind. They changed their names, married many times and kept delivering unforgettable performances. Ultimately, they were adored…although never for who they truly were. As Simon Pegg also said, “He's perhaps the only movie star left.” So it feels as though Tom Cruise is not only hanging onto a fast-moving vehicle or edge of a skyscraper, but onto an era that’s almost gone. It’s becoming too easy to know the truth about the A-list (thank you, social media) and the mystery is fading. But Tom? I don’t think we’ll ever figure out who he really is.