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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tom Cruise

Engagingly sexy with a wall of perfect teeth and a grin to defrost the coldest of hearts, Tom Cruise exploded onto screens during the mid-1980s in a series of teen roles that made the most of his athleticism and revealed the boyishly handsome star's charisma. The actor quickly graduated to adult superstar status and by decade's end had held his own opposite both Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman as each garnered Best Actor Oscars in his company. By the mid-90s, he was indisputably the most powerful movie star of his generation, only bested by the relatively grizzled Harrison Ford as the world box-office champ, and by the end of the millennium he had surpassed even Ford, becoming Hollywood's most bankable star with five consecutive films grossing in excess of $100 million prior to the release of the hotly anticipated "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), Stanley Kubrick's directorial swan song....

Full Biography
Engagingly sexy with a wall of perfect teeth and a grin to defrost the coldest of hearts, Tom Cruise exploded onto screens during the mid-1980s in a series of teen roles that made the most of his athleticism and revealed the boyishly handsome star's charisma. The actor quickly graduated to adult superstar status and by decade's end had held his own opposite both Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman as each garnered Best Actor Oscars in his company. By the mid-90s, he was indisputably the most powerful movie star of his generation, only bested by the relatively grizzled Harrison Ford as the world box-office champ, and by the end of the millennium he had surpassed even Ford, becoming Hollywood's most bankable star with five consecutive films grossing in excess of $100 million prior to the release of the hotly anticipated "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), Stanley Kubrick's directorial swan song. Cruise had managed this feat without developing an insufferable movie star ego, perhaps his greatest accomplishment of all--and yet in 2005 his public behavior veered far from his usual genial image, even though his career was still flying high.
A peripatetic childhood saw him attend a dozen schools by age 12, and when a knee injury derailed his wrestling ambitions, Cruise turned to acting, landing the role of Nathan Detroit in his high school production of "Guys and Dolls" and dropping out in his senior year (school had long been a problem for the dyslexic Cruise) to pursue the dream full-time. By 1981, Cruise was in Los Angeles where he met Paula Wagner, then an agent at Creative Artists Agency, who would subsequently guide his film career. After making his feature debut in a small role in Franco Zeffirelli's notorious Brooke Shields-starrer "Endless Love", he gained attention in a showy supporting role as an increasingly lunatic gung-ho cadet in "Taps" (both 1981). He next landed his first starring role opposite "older woman" Shelly Long in "Losin' It" (1983), a middling teen coming-of-age comedy. Prospects brightened when he persuaded Francis Ford Coppola to cast him in a small role as a tough guy in "The Outsiders" (1983), though he failed to stand out amidst teen heartthrobs like Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, C Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio.

Cruise gained celebrity in the superior teen sex satire "Risky Business" (also 1983) as an anxious, affluent, suburban teen poised precariously on the brink of young adulthood, creating a resonant protagonist for young Reagan-era audiences. He even put on some extra pounds to emphasize the softness and vulnerability of the character who flirts with illicit capitalism. In a star-making scene, Cruise, clad in a button-down Oxford shirt, Jockey briefs, and cool shades, played air guitar and danced wildly to Bob Seger's anthem, "Old Time Rock'n'Roll." This celebrated sequence provided a key to the actor's subsequent mega-success: he was an attractive but fairly regular guy to whom audiences could easily relate. Intriguingly, the part also showcased Cruise's magnetic sexual appeal much more effectively than many subsequent screen roles.

Cruise performed well in a more naturalistic mode in "All the Right Moves" (1983), a sober high school football drama which pitted him against hot-headed coach Craig T Nelson that fared modestly at the box office. He next grew his hair long and made the wrong move donning green tights for Ridley Scott's colossal fantasy flop, "Legend" (1985). Cruise, however, solidified his star status and established his onscreen persona with one of the signature hits of the 80s, "Top Gun" (1986). Defiantly politically incorrect, with flying sequences edited to the rhythms of pop tunes, the film functioned as both Navy recruiting ad and glossy romantic adventure. No longer the engaging boy-next-door, Cruise's Maverick was a prototype for roles to come, a cocky loner who plays by his own rules, confronts a crisis, then is triumphantly transformed.

Not content to be a matinee idol, Cruise crafted his career carefully, teaming with talented directors and co-stars for "The Color of Money" (1986) and "Rain Man" (1988). The former, Martin Scorsese's sharply made, nicely textured sequel to 1961's "The Hustler", cast him as a talented but arrogant small-time pool hotshot, a younger, greener version of Paul Newman's Fast Eddie Felsen. They made an eclectic pair, Cruise's boisterous All-American boy versus Newman's seasoned con man, and though the old stud picked up the Best Actor Oscar, he was clearly passing the mantle to the new stud, and not just on the screen. The time spent talking with the politically-active Newman had a profound consciousness-raising effect on Cruise who would later choose Oliver Stone's extremely anti-war "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) to counter his contribution to the jingoistic "Top Gun". He broadened his serious dramatic credentials in his work with director Barry Levinson on "Rain Man", playing another self-centered hotshot whose relationship with his autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman) changes his life. Hoffman shone as the idiot savant and took home Oscar, but Cruise was equally important to the Oscar-winning Best Picture equation.

For Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July,” he did not have to share the spotlight (with anybody but the man at the helm who snared the Best Director Oscar for his efforts) and earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for a hard-hitting portrayal of paraplegic, anti-war activist Ron Kovic. Cruise then stumbled a bit with his next two projects. Though "Days of Thunder" introduced him to love of his life Nicole Kidman and inaugurated a long-term association with screenwriter Robert Towne, it suffered from an inordinately short editing period, causing Cruise (who also received a "from story" credit) to remark: "My regret is making a movie to meet a release date like that. Big mistake. I won't do it again." Scalded by critics, it still raked in $166 million worldwide, but there was no saving "Far and Away" (1992), a goofy period romance co-starring Kidman ("The honeymoon project, that's what we call it. I loved making that movie. It's a picture I look forward to showing to our kids in a few years"). He returned to box office clover after that critical and commercial disappointment, successfully confronting an iconic Jack Nicholson in Rob Reiner's highly popular court-martial drama, "A Few Good Men" (1992).

Cruise's hotshot lawyer bent on toppling his corrupt bosses in "The Firm" (1993) could have been a brother to his character in "A Few Good Men.” Despite a stellar supporting cast (i.e., Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Holly Hunter and Wilfred Brimley, among many others), he shouldered carried the smooth adaptation of John Grisham's giant bestseller, tackling the deceptively difficult character with a vibrancy that guaranteed a successful box office for his first thriller. Director Sydney Pollack (rebounding from the disastrous "Havana" 1990) and his outstanding team of scriptwriters (Towne, David Rabe, David Rayfiel) brought a few extra plot twists and added some dramatic and ethical complexity to the attractive and entertaining tale.

Cruise then raised eyebrows—and more than a few hackles—by accepting the central role of the vampire Lestat in David Geffen's lavish production of Neil Jordan's "Interview With the Vampire" (1994). Many balked at the idea of the All-American go-getter playing the decadent, ambisexual European predator of Anne Rice's novel. Rice herself was the harshest critic as she traveled about the country trashing the casting decision while on a book tour. Sporting blond locks and blue contact lenses (his eyes are naturally green), Cruise eventually won Rice's approval and generally positive (if hardly enthusiastic) notices. The film was also notable for teaming the superstar with less familiar heartthrobs Brad Pitt, Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas. Although Cruise was only 32 at the time, there was a peculiar sense of his passing on the baton. (Ironically, Pitt was only a year younger.) In any event, the film earned mixed reviews while doing brisk business.

Cruise was all but omnipresent in the media as he aggressively promoted his feature producing debut, the post-Cold War espionage movie "Mission: Impossible" (1996). Based on the fondly remembered 60s TV show, the project had languished in various development hells before Cruise got involved. This marked the inaugural project for Cruise/Wagner Productions, the company the actor formed with his one-time agent in 1992. Rumors abounded about his clashing with director Brian De Palma over budgetary and story matters. Nonetheless, despite international location shooting, high-tech stunts, computer-generated visual effects and last-minute re-writes by a stellar assortment of writers (including his buddy Towne again), "Mission: Impossible" came in on time and under budget at approximately $67 million (Cruise deferred his $20 million actor's salary). Though many critics deemed it an extravagant but cold vanity production with a confused storyline, most admired the cinematic technique, and the mixed reviews didn't inhibit ticket buyers, proving the actor could attract crowds to a movie that didn't entirely make sense.

The sweetly offbeat romantic comedy "Jerry Maguire" (1996), in which he played the eponymous, shallow, back-stabbing sports agent, provided a sort of mid-career breakthrough for Cruise. For years he had portrayed irresistible smoothies, turning the world on with his smile while piloting fighter jets and driving race cars. Though it was a classic Cruise performance, bursting with the usual cocky charm and boyish charisma, there was an added dimension of desperation and a new maturity to his screen persona. He had played characters who had been up against the ropes before but perhaps never for so long or so convincingly. Here was a slickster whose powers had failed him, exposing a seldom seen vulnerability which made his eventual comeback that much sweeter. This time, the critics and moviegoers reached consensus, and Cruise garnered his second Best Actor Academy Award nomination. Three years would pass before he returned to the screen, though he and Wagner would produce "Without Limits" (1998), Towne's biopic about fabled long distance runner Steve Prefontaine.

Cruise took himself out of the game at the height of his career to work with Kubrick on "Eyes Wide Shut,” starring opposite Kidman for the first time since "Far and Away". Far from feeling hostage to the famous perfectionist's obsessive vision, the pair relished their brush with genius, diving in to share the adventure with eyes wide open. "For me it was no sacrifice. He became a dear friend and a mentor. Sometimes I'd look at him and think, This guy made '2001'! I'll carry the experience the rest of my life." The director gained the couple's trust as only a true friend could. When he filmed Cruise and Kidman in the nude scene that opens the film, Kubrick closed the set and operated the camera himself, intensifying the intimacy among the three of them. Sex and violence have long resonated as twin bogeymen in the rhetoric of the moral majority, but sex that is not degrading or a joke has been curiously absent from commercial cinema for some time. Though time will tell if Kubrick's swan song can revive the erotic impulse and its consequences as viable mainstream fodder, "Eyes Wide Shut" is a significant notch in Cruise's artistic belt, one well worth the tens of millions of dollars he gave up as the 18-week shoot ballooned to 52 weeks over 15 months.

Following the arduous shoot with Kubrick and the mixed critical and box office reaction to "Eyes Wide Shut", Cruise took on a pivotal role in Paul Thomas Anderson's ensemble drama "Magnolia" (1999). Playing a cocky sex guru who runs seminars designed to empower men, the actor offered a charismatic turn that was alternately chilling and humorous. Having taken a role in an ensemble piece, Cruise reminded audiences and reviewers alike of his capabilities as a dramatic actor and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. He segued back to leading parts in more high profile mainstream work reprising his role as Ethan Hunt in the big-budget, special effects laden "M:I-2" ("Mission: Impossible 2" 2000), directed by John Woo. For a variety of reasons, the film's shooting schedule fell behind forcing the release date to be moved back several months and for Cruise to postpone his long-awaited teaming with director Steven Spielberg on the futuristic thriller "Minority Report."

Before tackling that film, Cruise reunited with his "Jerry Maguire" helmer Cameron Crowe for an American remake of the perception-bending 1997 Spanish film "Abre los ojos" aka "Open Your Eyes." During the making of that film, titled "Vanilla Sky" Cruise endured a very public and acrimonious split from his Kidman, and while the reasons were never revealed he clearly laid the blame at her door, even as he entered into a relationship with his "Vanilla Sky" co-star Penelope Cruz (Cruise and Kidman later amicably worked out their divorce battles for their children's sake in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001). "Vanilla Sky" (2001) opened to mixed reviews, seen as a competent and often compelling puzzle with a somewhat unsatisfying endgame, and Cruise's performance as David Aames, a successful publisher finds his life taking a turn for the surreal after a car accident with a obsessive lover, was seen as appropriately intense but perhaps a little over-the-top in his efforts to subvert his pretty boy looks with Hollywood-made scars. The actor was finally given the opportunity to work with Spielberg on "Minority Report" (2002), a crackerjack collaboration filled with skillful action sequences and a thought-provoking expansion of sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick's premise of a future where police use precognitives to prevent murders before they happen. Playing Detective John Anderton, the head of the special unit who finds himself the subject of a manhunt after the psychics predict that he will commit a murder, Cruise is in top heroic form on the run from his own officers.

Up next Cruise turned in one of his more nuanced performances for director Ed Zwick in "The Last Samurai" (2003), playing Capt. Nathan Algren, an alcoholic veteran of Custer's battles with Native Americans who travels to Japan to help Westernize the Imperial army, only to be captured by a rebellious samurai leader (Ken Watanabe) and embrace the ways of the bushido code, finding his lost honor along the way. Although the film follows the slightly patronizing white-man-embraces-and-improves-indigenous culture template of movies such as "Dances With Wolves," Cruise's initial anguish and his subsequent reclaiming of his own soul were skillfully and subtlety conveyed by the actor, earning him a Golden Globe nomination. The actor's hot streak continued unabated with another of his best roles, the cold-hearted assassin Vincent who high-jacks a good-hearted L.A. cabbie (Jamie Foxx) to drive him on his deadly rounds in director Michael Mann's "Collateral" (2004). Wearing a gray wig and beard stubble, Cruise used his trademark intensity to his advantage in a rare villainous role, while his inherent charm also gave the character a compelling quality.

Cruise's personal life overshadowed his professional career in 2005 when, after just a few weeks of dating, he and actress Katie Holmes—who was at 26 was 16 years younger than Cruise—announced their romance to the world just weeks before both of them had major summer movies heading to theaters (Cruise, the Steven Spielberg-directed "War of the Worlds"; Holmes, the franchise re-starting "Batman Begins"). The media instantly speculated that the romance was a massive publicity stunt, and the couple's often unconvincing interaction and their relentless media onslaught added fuel to the fire: within just a few weeks of the announcement, Cruise made a bizarre fist-pumping appearance on Oprah Winfrey's talk show to proclaim his love for Holmes, jumping on the host's set furniture and dragging a seemingly reluctant Holmes before the cameras; Holmes presented Cruise with a career achievement award on the MTV Movie Awards; Holmes, who had been quoted years earlier that as a girl she dreamed of marrying Cruise, denied even thinking about their age (or height) difference; and both appeared separately before David Letterman to further spin their love story.

Cruise had long been a proponent of the often mysterious, Hollywood-centered Church of Scientology founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (he credited his studies there with "curing" him of the dyslexia that plagued him since his youth, among other benefits; rumors abounded that his faith contributed to his split with Nicole Kidman) and the actor took an active role in promoting the religion around the globe. At the onset of the Holmes romance, he also was reportedly instrumental in opening up the very secretive church and inviting journalists to sample its practices (Holmes also began taking Scientology courses, and dumped her Hollywood handlers in favor of his). The couple's apparent happy ending came just days later, when they announced their engagement in Paris (Cruise proposed atop the Eiffel Tower). However, he also launched into a uncharacteristic war of words with his former "Endless Love" co-star Brooke Shields after she described taking antidepressants to relieve her post-partum depression in her book Down Came the Rain, with Cruise criticizing Shields for being "irresponsible," claiming her career was over and suggesting that vitamins would have been a better alternative treatment. Also, rumors ran rampant that Paramount was waffling over proceeding with "Mission Impossible 3" due to concerns about Cruise, but the studio ultimately moved forward on the film. And there were more curious on-camera incidents, including a sharply worded exchange with "Today Show" co-host Matt Lauer in which Cruise aggressively derided psychiatry as a "pseudo-science," provoking a formal rebuke from the American Psychiatric Association. Nearly lost in all of Cruise's public appearances was his film "War of the Worlds" itself, which was another mostly masterful exercise in cinematic suspense and terror, buoyed by a strong performance by Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a working class deadbeat dad who must suddenly protect his two children during a horrific alien invasion.

Meanwhile, the tabloid fun continued when Cruise announced in October 2005 that Holmes was pregnant with his child. Then in November 2005, Cruise fired publicist Lee Anne DeVette—also his sister—who some considered responsible for his bizarre behavior on Oprah and insane ramblings against psychology and pharmaceuticals. He then hired Paul Bloch, a veteran publicist known for protecting the public images of Eddie Murphy and John Travolta, and for a spell Cruise’s outlandishness seemed quelled. He spent the winter months relatively subdued until an episode of the subversive animated series, “South Park” (Comedy Central, 1997- ), depicted Scientology in a negative light and made not-so-veiled jokes that questioned his sexuality — a persistent rumor that dogged him ever since he successfully sued a tabloid that published a story about a gay porn star claiming to have had an affair with the actor. Cruise retaliated against “South Park” in public by reaffirming his faith in scientology. Comedy Central subsequently yanked the episode after its only airing, leading some to speculate that Cruise exerted his star power behind the scenes—an assertion that was publicly denied.

After months of fawning and speculation—and a spattering of ridicule — Cruise and Homes — dubbed “TomKat” by a smug media — had a 7 pound, 7 ounce baby girl named Suri in an undisclosed location in Los Angeles. It was announced prior to having the baby that Holmes would follow Scientology’s tenets of silent birth, a procedure that dictates everyone in the delivery room be silent as to not cause stress for the mother and child.

Meanwhile, Cruise began making the media rounds in anticipation of his next film, “Mission: Impossible 3” (2006), including a highly-publicized chat with celebrity interviewer, Diane Sawyer, who riddled him with tough questions and the latest rumors. She asked, for example, if he was joking about eating the placenta after birth—referring to a comment he made in a magazine article; if Holmes’ family — particularly her father — were rebelling against their daughter’s conversion to Scientology; if he and Holmes were actually splitting up after rumors she had moved to another room in their home. Cruise denied every accusation, claiming that all was well. After the birth of his first biological child (even that wasn’t immune to tabloid speculation), Cruise continued his publicity for “Mission: Impossible,” the third installment to the franchise that depicted a retired Ethan Hunt (Cruise) living a slower-paced life while training new IMF agents. But he’s called back to action to due battle with Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an international weapons dealer who may turn out to be Hunt’s toughest adversary yet.

In a move that shocked not only the industry, but much of the world, on Aug. 22, 2006, Paramount Pictures announced it was ending its 14-year relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions. Chairman of Viacom (Paramount's parent company) Sumner Redstone cited the economic damage to Tom Cruise's value as an actor and producer from his controversial public behavior and views. Cruise/Wagner Productions responded that Paramount's announcement was a face-saving move after the production company had successfully sought alternative financing from private equity firms. In the end, Cruise/Wagner reportedly secured a two-year production deal with a group led by Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, who also owned Six Flags, Inc., which would give Cruise less than $3 million to finance staff and office expenses. In exchange, Snyder and the others would have the ability to finance movies developed by Cruise/Wagner. At the same time this unfortunate series of business setbacks occured, the public at long last got their first glimpse of baby Suri Cruise, when Vanity Fair published a much anticipated cover and 22-page spread in September, 2006. The unveiling received much fanfare, as blogs, tabloids and even hard news programs like "The CBS Evening News" detailed the contents of the magazine and the story behind the buzzed-about photos taken by famed celebrity photographer, Annie Leibovitz.

Actor, producer, director Sometimes Credited As:
Thomas Cruise Mapother Family
cousin:Amy Mapother (born c. 1973; sister of William)
cousin:William Mapother (born in 1965; brother of Amy; appeared in "Mission: Impossible 2" and the tv series "Lost")
daughter:Suri Cruise (born April 18, 2006; mother, Katie Holmes)
daughter:Isabella Jane Kidman Cruise (adopted by Cruise and Kidman in January 1993; born weighing 9 pounds on December 22, 1992 in Florida)
father:Thomas Cruise Mapother III (born in October 1934 in Kentucky; divorced cruise's mother in 1974, when Cruise was 11; never paid child support; Cruise and his father reconciled before he died of cancer on January 9, 1984)
Producing partner:Paula Wagner
sister:Cass Mapother (born c. 1963; owns a restaurant in New Jersey)
sister:Marian Mapother (born c. 1961; has a teaching degree)
sister:Lee Anne DeVette (born c. 1959; works in publicity and marketing for Cruise's company; took over as Cruise's publicist in 1994; dropped as publicist in order to oversee the day to day operations of Tom Cruise's philanthropic activities in 2005)
son:Connor Anthony Kidman Cruise (born on January 17, 1995 in Florida; adopted by Cruise and Kidman in early February 1995)
wife:Katie Holmes (began dating April 2005; became engaged June 17, 2005 atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; married November 18, 2006 in a 15th-century castle outside of Rome in Bracciano, Italy; they had "officialized their marriage in Los Angeles prior to their departure for Italy")
wife:Mimi Rogers (married on May 9, 1987 (with Emilio Estevez as best man); divorced in January 1990)
wife:Nicole Kidman (born on June 20, 1967; married on December 24, 1990 in Telluride, Colorado (this time with Dustin Hoffman as best man); first appeared together in "Days of Thunder" (1990); later co-starred in "Far and Away" (1992) and "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999); announced separation in February 2001; Cruise filed for divorce on February 7, 2001; divorce finalized on August 8, 2001)
Melissa Gilbert , Companion , ```..dated in 1982
Penelope Cruz , Companion , ```..worked together on "Vanilla Sky"; went public with relationship in July 2001; no longer together as of January 2004
Rebecca De Mornay , Companion , ```..involved during and after filming of "Risky Business"; lived together for 2 1/2 years (c. 1983-85)

Glen Ridge High School Glen Ridge, New Jersey


MTV Movie Award Best Male Performer "Mission: Impossible 2" 2001
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor "Magnolia" 1999
John Huston Award for Artists Rights 1999
National Board of Review Award Best Ensemble "Magnolia" 1999
MTV Movie Award Best Male Performance "Jerry Maguire" 1997
Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) "Jerry Maguire" 1996
Golden Satellite Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) "Jerry Maguire" 1996
National Board of Review Award Best Actor "Jerry Maguire" 1996
NATO/ShoWest Award International Box Office Star 1992
Chicago Film Festival Best Actor Award "Born on the Fourth of July" 1990
Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) "Born on the Fourth of July" 1990
People's Choice Award Favorite Motion Picture Actor 1990

Milestones (Back to top)

2006 Reprised role of Ethan Hunt for "Mission: Impossible III," with J.J. Abrams making his feature-film directorial debut
2006 On August 22, 2006, Paramount Pictures announced it was ending its 14-year relationship with Cruise/Wagner Productions
2006 With business partner Paula Wagner, signed a two-year development deal with an investment partnership headed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder
2006 Partnered with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to resurrect United Artists; will star in and produce films for the studio, and production partner Paula Wagner will serve as chief executive officer
2005 Starred in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," based on H.G. Wells' novel, which chronicles a Martian invasion of Earth
2004 Played a contract killer in Michael Mann's "Collateral"
2003 Starred in the epic drama "The Last Samurai"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Dramatic role
2002 Teamed with Steven Spielberg for "Minority Report"
2002 Narrated the IMAX film "Space Station"
2001 Reunited with director Cameron Crowe on "Vanilla Sky", a loose remake of the Spanish film "Obra los ojos/Open Your Eyes"
2000 Reprised role of Ethan Hunt in the sequel "M:I-2" ("Mission: Impossible 2"), directed by John Woo; also produced with Wagner
1999 Acted in Paul Thomas Anderson's ensemble drama "Magnolia", playing a foul-mouthed cable TV sex guru; earned Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination
1998 Produced (with Wagner) "Without Limits", Robert Towne's biopic about fabled distance runner Steve Prefontaine
1998 Accepted (with Kidman) substantial libel damages from Express Newspapers over allegations that their marriage was a "hypocritical sham"; the Cruises donated the money to charity
1996 Feature producing debut (with partner Wagner), "Mission: Impossible"; also acted, deferring $20 million salary
1996 Earned second Best Actor Oscar nomination for lead performance as sports agent "Jerry Maguire"
1996 - 1998 Filmed lead role in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), starring opposite Kidman; project reteamed him with Pollack (acting this time) who replaced Harvey Keitel after filming had started
1994 Portrayed Lestat in Neil Jordan's "Interview with the Vampire", adapted by Anne Rice from her novel; eventually won over Rice who had publicly campaigned against his casting
1993 Scored with Sydney Pollack's "The Firm", the first film adaptation of a John Grisham novel
1993 Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1993 TV directorial debut with "Frightening Frammis", an episode on Showtime's "Fallen Angels" series, starring Isabella Rossellini and Peter Gallagher
1992 Reteamed with Kidman for "Far and Away", Ron Howard's would-be epic of Irish settlers in the American west
1992 Hit blockbuster gold as a Navy lawyer in Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men"
1992 Along with his partner, former CAA agent Paula Wagner, signed an exclusive production pact with Paramount Pictures to produce his films
1990 First story credit (shared with Robert Towne), "Days of Thunder", directed by Tony Scott; also first film with future wife Nicole Kidman
1990 Renounced his devout Catholicism for the Church of Scientology, claiming its teachings had cured him of his dyslexia
1989 Earned first Best Actor Oscar nomination portraying paralyzed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July"
1988 Turned in top-drawer performance opposite Dustin Hoffman (who collected the Best Actor Oscar) in Barry Levinson's "Rain Man"
1986 Roared to first position in the annual exhibitors' poll of the top ten box office stars on the strength of the blockbusters "Top Gun" (directed by Tony Scott) and "The Color of Money" (directed by Mar
1983 Persuaded director Francis Ford Coppola to cast him in a small role in the feature "The Outsiders"
1983 Breakthrough film role, as high school student Joel Goodson in "Risky Business"
1983 Starred as goal-oriented high school football player in "All the Right Moves"
1981 Film acting debut in "Endless Love"
1981 Cast in a small role in "Taps"; bumped up to a major supporting role after another actor failed to measure up during the mock-boot-camp rehearsals for the film; first gained critical attention
1981 Met Paula Wagner, then an agent at Creative Artists Agency
1974 Fled Canada (and his father) for the USA with his mother and three sisters at age 12
Diagnosed as dyslexic as a child; has claimed in interviews he was "misdiagnosed"
Attended a dozen schools before he was 12 years old
Took up acting in high school after losing his place on wrestling team due to a knee injury
Portrayed Nathan Detroit in a high school production of "Guys and Dolls" during his senior year

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