Tom Cruise is intriguing to me because of the number of different phases his own career has gone through – he once turned down a record-setting contract to star in Top Gun 2 so he could play second fiddle to Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman. He was an up-and-coming character actor. He followed Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire with Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia. He delivered dynamite films with Steven Spielberg.
He grew up destitute, abused by his father, and attended 15 different schools. Should I admire his success in the face of such odds? He’s member to what many people think of as a cult. He’s been accused of spying on an ex-wife. Katie Holmes left him overnight to keep their child from Scientology. Should I hate him?
The truth of his character may lie somewhere in the middle, and it’s intriguing to trace the path of that career over his best performances – how they reflect his goals as an actor, how they reflect our interactions with his films. I always say, I avoid making lists unless there are greater points at hand. I do my best to get at a few here: