It’s a big weekend if your name is Tom Cruise and you’re a huge Hollywood heavyweight as the action hero celebrates his 60th birthday today.
He has a lot to celebrate right now as Top Gun sequel Maverick is currently flying high at the box office, easily breaking $1 billion worldwide.
That is certainly a huge gift in itself.
There’s no denying that he’s still at the top of his game, but how does he do it?
In honor of Tom’s landmark big day, we took a walk through memory to illuminate some of his best moments and see why the Cruiser is the last of the Hollywood icons.
1962: Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York. His full name was Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, but he was smart enough to shorten it.
Suddenly he stopped sounding like an absent-minded uncle in a Dickens novel and started sounding like a super cool movie star.
1983: Risky Business. You may not remember much about this teen comedy drama, but everyone remembers that Cruise was crazy and sexy at the same time as he danced around in his shirt, pants and socks. A star was born!
1989: Born on July 4. Cruise proved he was more than a set of gleaming teeth by playing Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist.
He earned the first of his three Oscar nominations, the last being for Magnolia in 2000. The last for now, that is…
1999: Eyes wide closed. Cruise and Nicole Kidman signed on for six months of work on Stanley Kubrick’s erotic psychodrama, but they lasted 15 months, which is why Eyes Wide Shut holds the Guinness World Record for longest continuous film recording ever.
Cruise isn’t a quitter – though his marriage to Kidman was on the rocks shortly after.
2000: Mission: Impossible 2. Cruise dangled with one hand from a cliff, 2,000 feet above the Utah desert.
And that really is him dangling, even if he had a safety rope that had been digitally erased.
Of course, the scene was hardly essential to the story, but it gave the Mission: Impossible series its raison d’être: to show audiences a Hollywood legend doing his own insanely demanding stunts. A risky undertaking, indeed.
2005: The banking incident. This is where things went a bit wrong. Cruise was on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote War Of The Worlds, but he raved about Katie Holmes and jumped on Oprah’s couch instead.
Between this much-loved gymnastics display and his attacks on psychiatry, Cruise acquired an unfortunate reputation as an odd Scientologist.
Lesson learned; he’s been a lot quieter about his private life since then.
2007: Lions for lambs. This smug political drama isn’t great, but it IS directed by Robert Redford, and it remains the most recent example of Cruise teaming up with a really great director.
Young Cruise makes it a point to tick them off: Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, etc. But now he prefers to be the boss himself.
Whoever the director is, it’s Cruise’s take on what constitutes an efficiently entertaining film that counts. Reasonable. Without such a control freak, he probably wouldn’t have kept his megastar status.
But wouldn’t it be exciting if he teamed up with a challenging author again?
2012: Jack Reacher. Cruise didn’t make many questionable career choices, but the decision that he was the man to play Lee Child’s 6 ft 5 inch blonde vigilante was one of them.
2017: The Mummy. Okay, so this is another questionable choice. Let’s move on quickly.
Still, the film was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who has made every episode of Mission: Impossible since then, so at least Cruise got a reliable new creative partner out of the deal.
2022: Top Gun: Maverick. A sequel to most 80s-esque movies of all the 80s, released 36 years after the original?
It should have been a disaster, but Cruise’s obsessive quality control paid off – and the fact that he hadn’t aged a day since the first film probably helped.
2022: Cannes Film Festival. During a Q&A on stage, a French journalist asks Cruise why he does his own stunts.
Cruise’s response: ‘Nobody asks Gene Kelly, why are you dancing? Why are you dancing yourself?’
Yeah, he’s passionate about what he does, okay.
TG:M has taken over more than $1 billion at the box office, making it the biggest theatrical hit of the year – and Cruise’s own highest-grossing film.
Don’t bet he’ll win that much-anticipated Best Actor Oscar next year.
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