Perhaps the hardest act to pull off in Hollywood is sustainability.
Whether you’re considered an A-list talent or one of the “it” young stars, at any second your stock can drop. And with tenacious paparazzi and social media now the norm, that mystery and mystique of movie stars is no more.
Well, except for one.
There is an actor who continues to have that “movie star” aura, and frankly, he’s the last one — Tom Cruise.
With the release of his latest action movie this Friday, “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation,” Cruise is poised to rule the weekend box office once more. It’s quite remarkable to think earlier this year the latest Cruise pile-on came when the documentary “Going Clear” revealed the atrocities that allegedly occur at the Church of Scientology, in which Cruise is a devout supporter (according to the film the actor may have known some of the evil things going on there).
But that’s the magic of Cruise. With any negative press he receives, his movies always seem to cause us all to hit the reset button on him.
Why is that? Because we can forgive our movie stars. If they can continue to entertain us on a consistent basis, all is forgiven.
Cruise was close to being thrown off his pedestal when the infamous couch jump on “Oprah” led to a domino-effect of controversy for him. But he’s weathered that storm and is arguably a bigger draw than ever, which is extremely rare.
Let’s look at his contemporaries, which is summed up in this photo from the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.”
This was the future of Hollywood in the 1980s — Matt Dillion, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and let’s also throw in Charlie Sheen and Mickey Rourke. They all had their time and today are nowhere near Cruise’s stardom (Swayze sadly passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2009).
Cruise has topped them all thanks to being ahead of the curve. First in choosing dramatic projects (“Rain Man,” "Born on the Fourth of July,"“A Few Good Men”), then being American’s heartthrob (“Jerry Maguire”), and most recently turning into one of the few action stars who doesn’t need a comic book franchise to back him.
Where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone failed at staying action stars, Cruise excelled by keeping his action as practical as possible and proudly stating that he does his own stunts.
But being a movie star also means to know when to stay off the radar. Cruise has done this masterfully since the couch jump. And leading up to the release of “Going Clear,” he was completely mum, though some rumors have come out that Cruise has seen the movie and now wants to leave Scientology. Regardless if it’s true or not, it only helps his image going into this weekend.
You could make the argument that actors like Brad Pitt and George Clooney are also at the same level of movie stardom as Cruise, but it’s not the same. The two don’t rake in the kind of box office cash Cruise does (Cruise films usually make at least $200 million; Pitt and Clooney films usually top around $100-150 million worldwide), and they don’t own the stigma of being the movie star, like Cruise.
While Cruise has become one of the best at selling a movie all over the world, Pitt and Clooney take that “under the radar” stance a little too seriously. They pop out to hock their movies, but not with the same gusto that Cruise does, which this week included him doing a lip synch battle against Jimmy Fallon. During his press tours, Cruise has stayed mum on Scientology.
There are a lot of very popular actors in Hollywood. From the new breed like Chris Pratt, to the ones that have blown us away for years, yet are still somewhat harder to relate to like Robert Downey Jr.
But with Cruise, it’s different.
We've marveled at Cruise's diversity as an actor throughout his career, the many iconic moments he’s given us (from sliding across the hall in his undies to “You complete me” to “M:I” thrill seeker), and the gusto he gives every role and press appearance. Perhaps that's why we always find ourselves rooting for him.