Super sleuth to rock god: 10 performances by Tom Cruise

As Tom Cruise celebrates his 59th birthday on 3 July it’s worth reflecting on his incredible Academy Award-nominated career that has spanned 40 years.

Cruise’s first role was in 1981’s Endless Love where he had a minor role as a friend of ones of the film’s protagonists. His breakthrough role came two years later in the coming-of-age comedy Risky Business (1993). Since then Cruise has enjoyed a variety of award nominated and iconic roles.

Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988) – Starring opposite Dustin Hoffman, Cruise’s Charlie Babbitt develops a relationship with the brother he never knew he had following the death of their father. The brothers are very different with Raymond (Hoffman) diagnosed with savant syndrome and living in a mental institution.

Lt Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in Top Gun (1986) – This fantastically Eighties film is a firm fan favourite that delivers high speed thrills and memorable one-liners. A sequel (Top Gun: Maverick) is due to be released later this year with Cruise reprising his role alongside Jennifer Connelly and Miles Teller.

Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men (1992) – Based on the play of the same name A Few Good Men focuses on the court-martial of two U.S. Marines charged with the murder of a fellow Marine. Cruise stars as an inexperienced lawyer who has to prepare a case to defend them.

Lestat in Interview with the Vampire (1994) – Starring opposite Brad Pitt and a young Kirsten Dunst, Cruise brought (back) to life Anne Rice’s beloved antihero, Lestat de Lioncourt. The film is one of only a handful of period roles for Cruise, fully embracing the talents of the make-up and costume departments.

Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series (1996 to present) – Ethan is arguably the role that Cruise is best known to contemporary audiences for. There are now six films in the series with the seventh instalment slated for release next year. Read my review of the series to date.

Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire (1996) – Cruise stars as a high-power sports agent in the film that delivered the iconic line: “You had me at hello.” Starring opposite Renée Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr., Cruise delivers a strong performance in a film that successfully works across multiple genres and themes.

Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia (1999) – Cruise was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 72nd Academy Awards for his role of the larger-than-life Frank, a motivational speaker peddling a pickup artist course to men.

Vincent in Collateral (2004) – This thriller follows Max (Jamie Foxx), a Los Angeles cab driver, and his customer, Vincent. It’s a stylish film that sees Max pushed to his limits as it’s revealed that Vincent is a hitman on a contract killing spree.

Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages (2012) – Every now and then Cruise takes on a comedic role that you might not expect him to. Rock god Stacee Jaxx is an example of one of those roles, as is Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder (2008).

Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – The action genre is the one that Cruise appears to favour; he is well-known for doing his own stunts, including death-defying falls from planes and jumping around skyscrapers. Blending sci-fi with Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow was an excellent choice for Cruise.

2 thoughts on “Super sleuth to rock god: 10 performances by Tom Cruise

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  1. One forgets that this perennially young Tom Cruise has been around this long. I am not a lover of the man himself since he is full into that Scientology cult, but he does make some good and entertaining films like the ones you mentioned here. I would like to add “Legend” which is such a good fairy tale but Tim Curry does steal the show as the devil (excellent make up). I like Jack Reacher and as a useless but fun time-Knight & Day. Not a good film but an entertaining one. I am so glad you mentioned one of my favourite roles which is “Collateral”. I also enjoyed “Edge of Tomorrow” which is quite funny in parts. This man is an adrenaline junkie for sure.

    1. I know what you mean, Birgit. I feel that way about several celebrities. I like their work but not necessarily them as a person.

      You’re right: Cruise is absolutely an adrenaline junkie! He must have the physique of a world class athlete. Legend is quite a ride, isn’t it?! So very daft moments and some charming ones too.

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