From jumping on a couch to jumping through hoops for Scientology, Tom Cruise has taken a lot of satirical abuse from everyone. But, with all of the fun we’ve had at Cruise’s expense, it pays to remember that he’s an actor first and a punch line second. A tour through his films can remind us of some things that his public image may not prepare us for.
10. Risky Business
For everyone who wonders what Tom Cruise looks like in his underwear, this is the film that made it possible. Cruise may have moved on to bigger and better things from here, but he’ll always have Bob Seeger to dance along with.
9. Mission Impossible
While Cruise in his underwear was a touchstone of the 80s, Cruise suspended from the ceiling, inches from the ground, is one of the iconic film images of the 90s. He probably appreciated the image shift.
Cruise’s only collaboration with Stanley Kubrick and his final film with then-wife Nicole Kidman, this erotic thriller brought out a different Cruise, along with some different parts of Cruise.
7. Top Gun
It’s hard to forgive a movie that introduced us to Jerry Bruckheimer but, since it also brought us Meg Ryan, Anthony Edwards, and Cruise’s need for speed, we’ll forgive this 80’s classic.
6. War of the Worlds
Spielberg’s take on the science fiction classic mixed with post-9/11 themes and anxieties features Cruise playing a flawed, but determined father. It was more than enough to drive this film to great box office returns.
While only part of an ensemble cast that features Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy, Cruise manages to steal the show, earning himself an Oscar nomination and reminding us that he’s not just another pretty face.
Tom Cruise as a hit man sounds like a set-up for a skit, not a movie. But, his portrayal of a chilly assassin proves that the idea is not in the least bit funny.
3. A Few Good Men
Having to act alongside Jack Nicholson usually means that all available scenery will be eaten before you have a chance to pick up a fork. But, Cruise manages to play off Jack and continue his search for the truth.
2. Rain Man
Cruise seems to be at his best playing smooth, cocksure men and the directors who work with him best know how to use that skill and break it down further. In so doing, Barry Levinson excels at showing how Cruise comes to grips with a brother he never knew he had.
Show me the money! You had me at hello. We all know these lines like we know our shoe size. It’s because of Cruise that these lines have a home and a place in this film about the rebirth of a sports agent and a man.
Whether we’re at the movies or watching his real-life exploits, Tom Cruise is always good for drama, laughs, and some unexpected twists. Whatever he might be doing, he takes our breath away.