Occupation: Actor, Director, Producer
Date of Birth: July 3, 1962
Place of Birth: Syracuse, NY, USA
Sign: Sun in Cancer, Moon in Leo
Relations: Wife: Nicole Kidman (actress); ex-wife: Mimi Rogers (actress); kids: Isabella, Connor Anthony (both adopted); father: Thomas Cruise Mapother III (electrical engineer; deceased); mother: Mary Lee Mapother; siblings: Lee Anne Mapother (publicist), Marian Mapother (teacher), Cass Mapother (restaurateur)
Education: High school
BORN IN THE summer of 1962, in Syracuse, New York, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV survived a childhood that might kindly be described as "disjointed." His father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, an electrical engineer, dragged his family around North America looking for work in Louisville, Kentucky, Ottawa, Ontario, and Glen Ridge, New Jersey, among other places. Although his parents divorced when Cruise was 11, the transient lifestyle continued as his mother tried her best to support Tom and his three sisters, often holding down three jobs just to feed them. Deadbeat Dad refused to pay child support, and it wasn't until 1984, shortly before Thomas Sr.'s death, that Tom was able to forgive his father. His father's absence is a large part of why Cruise chose to drop "Mapother" from his name.
Thanks to the vagabond life, Cruise attended eight elementary schools and three high schools, including a brief layover at a seminary in Cincinnati. His educational difficulties were exacerbated by undiagnosed dyslexia, which left the youngster literally unable to distinguish his right hand from his left. On top of that, his teachers forced the naturally left-handed Cruise to write with his right hand. Nonetheless, the remedial classes in which Cruise found himself contributed to what the entertainment industry now calls "Cruise Control;" Tom's legendary need to zero in on and control everything. "I had to focus if I wanted to graduate," he once said, "because I really had to listen to what the teachers were saying."
Cruise admits that living in places as disparate as Kentucky and Ontario, Canada left him with a "bizarre accent." Unable to form or sustain friendships because of his family's transience, the young man turned to athletics, playing soccer and wrestling. He even considered a career as a pro wrestler (a real one, not a WWC one) until a leg injury cancelled that option. And, during his early teens, he attended Franciscan seminary training in hopes of becoming a priest. He dropped out of his training only after a year, but later in life, would turn in his Catholic ideologies in favor of the Church of Scientology. It is widely reported that Cruise believes that his spiritual work in scientology helped to cure him of his dyslexia.
After his athletic and seminary careers were put to rest, Cruise tried the stage, landing leads in high school productions of Guys and Dolls (he played Nathan Detroit) and Godspell. Boosted by the adrenaline rush he felt - and the urging of an agent who happened to be in the audience one night - Cruise left high school before graduation and headed to New York with $500 in his pocket. He set himself a deadline of ten years to "make it."
He didn't have to wait that long. A network casting executive told Cruise he wasn't "pretty enough" for television, so he went for film. Within five months, he landed a tiny, uncredited part in the Brooke Shields bomb Endless Love, for which he earned day scale - at the time, a whopping $300. A few days later, he landed a bit part in the military drama Taps, alongside Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton. Within weeks, Cruise had been upgraded to a larger role, one which made critics - and the audience - take notice.
Then came his big breakthrough movie, 1983's Risky Business. The image of a teenage Tom dancing in his briefs to Bob Seger came to define a generation. For Cruise, the movie did more than boost his career: he became involved with co-star Rebecca DeMornay for more than two years. To this day, he refuses to discuss the relationship. The chemistry wasn't quite so hot between the actor and his Top Gun leading lady, Kelly McGillis, but Cruise refused to socialize off-set with the actress, in an effort to create sexual tension. It worked. The film went on to be a mega-million success.
Because of his parents' divorce, Cruise had always insisted that he would never marry. But shortly after Top Gun, he met actress Mimi Rogers, eight years his senior, at a small party. The "single for life" plan was out the window. The couple wed in May 1987, in a ceremony so secret that not even the actor's then-publicist knew the "spring bash" to which she'd been invited was actually an Unitarian wedding. Emilio Estevez, with whom Tom had been close ever since The Outsiders, was best man.
Cruise's critics considered him a one-trick pony, a pretty boy with a penchant for fluff like Losin' It and Cocktail. With Rain Man, the critics were silenced. Tom played the thoughtless-at-first kid brother of an autistic genius, and the fact that Cruise could hold his own opposite a legendary actor like Dustin Hoffman mean he was for real. In the future, he would continue to shine, even in the presence of screen legends like Paul Newman (The Color of Money) and Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men). Despite the accolades, Cruise wasn't among the numerous Oscar winners for Rain Man - in fact, he wasn't even nominated. He would have to wait several more years for that honor.
Then came Days of Thunder, a major turning point in the actor's life. Not because the film was great - it flopped big time - but because it was during this shoot that he met the future Mrs. Tom Cruise II, Nicole Kidman. Cruise was responsible for the hideous miscasting of the statuesque beauty as a neurosurgeon (at 22, and looking even younger, Kidman seemed a bit like Doogie Howser with a great body), but if she was less than believable onscreen, she shone off-screen.
Legend has it that Cruise was quite blunt with his soon-to-be-ex-wife about his relationship with Kidman. When Rogers showed up on the Days set after returning from a shoot of her own, Cruise apparently crossed his arms and said simply, "I'm with Nicole now."
Rogers would get hers, though. Regarding the couple's romantic life, she once told Playboy that Cruise "...thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument. My instrument, on the other hand, needs tuning."
The divorce came through in the spring of 1990; Cruise married Kidman on Christmas Eve the same year, in a formal-but-rustic log cabin ceremony. Rain Man co-star Dustin Hoffman served as best man. Tom seems to have found his home with Kidman; the couple adopted two children, Isabella and Connor.
Tom's lack of formal education certainly hasn't hurt him: on film, Cruise has twice been a Harvard Law School grad (The Firm, A Few Good Men) and once a future Princeton freshman (Risky Business). We're not sure, but we'd bet there's a Cornell grad and even maybe a Yale alum in his filmography somewhere (where did Jerry Maguire go to school?)
With Oliver Stone’s post-Vietnam drama Born on the Fourth of July, the actor finally received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award. He has gone on to receive two more Oscar nominations - another for Best Actor for his performance in Jerry Maguire, and a third (this time in the Best Supporting Actor category) for his portrayal of infomercial sex guru Frank F.J. Mackey in Magnolia.
Just when audiences thought they had seen everything that Cruise had to offer, he teamed up with Kidman for the late Stanley Kubrick's steamy swan song Eyes Wide Shut. The second most talked-about film of 1999 (after Phantom Menace), Eyes showed Cruise, Kidman and their various body parts in a whole new light. Then again, the status of the couple as sex symbols for all genders has never been in question.
Aware that his ingenue-type leading man days have an eventual expiration date, Cruise has begun producing his own material, most notably the Mission Impossible franchise. As Mission: Impossible 2 hits the big screen, many speculate that Tom Cruise will inherit the title of King of Action Adventure from action veteran Harrison Ford. Off screen, Cruise is a veritable superhero in the flesh. Over the past few years, he has rescued people from a burning boat, saved a woman who had been hit by a car and paid for her hospital bills, and pulled two kids to safety when they were in danger of being crushed at a mission: Impossible screening. Wherever there's action, it seems, on or off-screen, Tom Cruise is nearby.
1999 Mission: Impossible 2
1999 Eyes Wide Shut
1996 Jerry Maguire
1996 Mission: Impossible
1994 Interview with the Vampire
1993 The Firm
1992 A Few Good Men
1992 Far and Away
1990 Days of Thunder
1989 Born on the Fourth of July
1988 Rain Man
1988 Young Guns
1986 Top Gun
1986 The Color of Money
1983 Risky Business
1983 The Outsiders
1983 Losin' It
1983 All the Right Moves
1981 Endless Love
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)