Guest Author - Katy Cacolice
Since starring in the scintillating Risky Business (1983), Tom Cruise has been a major movie star renown around the world. After starring in Top Gun (1986), and the action thriller Mission Impossible (1994) as Ethan Hunt, Cruise's career became even bigger. He's known in pop culture circles for his beliefs in Scientology, jumping on The Oprah Winfrey Show couch in the name of love, and the dramatic stunts he pulls off in his action roles.
While many audiences know him by the tabloids, or action franchises, much of his work as a dramatic and comedic star falls under the radar. As a personal fan of his on-screen work, we're taking a quick look at some of Tom's lesser known roles.
Born on the Fourth of July (1989) is a film adaptation of an autobiography of the same, and follows the story of Vietnam War Veteran, Ron Kovic. In the movie, Cruise is almost recognizable as he endures complete facial and physical transformations, completely enhancing his startling performance in the film. Critically acclaimed for his dramatic role, Cruise was nominated for an Academy Award.
Based on the 1976 novel by Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (1994) stars Tom Cruise alongside Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst. The story timelines Lestat de Lioncourt (Cruise), and his 'protege' Louis de Pointe du Lac (Pitt), and their turning of a little girl (Dunst) into a vampire. Initially, Rice condemned Cruise's casting was "no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler". Following the release of the film, Rice immediately retracted her comments saying, "...from the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me", and wrote Cruise a letter of apology.
Jerry Maguire (1994) catapulted phrases like "Show me the money" and "You complete me" into movie quotes history. However, the romantic comedy did much more for Cruise. It earned him his second Academy Award nomination, for his performance of a sports agent fired from his position and forced to start over with a eccentric wide receiver, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. Giving a performance of equal comedy and drama, Cruise ultimately lost the Best Actor Oscar, however, Gooding Jr. won for Best Supporting Actor.
With Valkyrie (2008), Cruise portrays real-life Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an army officer involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Cruise's casting in the film caused a wave of controversy because of his Scientology beliefs, however, he received several awards by German media for the boldness of Hollywood telling the story of Stauffenberg, which had largely gone untold.
Tropic Thunder (2008) is an action comedy film, where a group of actors are led out into the middle of an exotic rainforest to film a Vietnam biopic 'guerrilla style. The group of actors include Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, and Alpa Chino, as Tom Cruise plays a hot-headed, foulmouthed studio head. This comedy catapulted Cruises' comedy skills, earning him a Golden Globe nomination, and in two brief scenes, also his dancing skills.
Rock of Ages is a 2012 musical based off the Broadway show. Set in the 1980s, Julianne Hough plays a waitress who works at The Bourbon Room and has high hopes of becoming a singer. The Bourbon Room becomes the setting for rock n'roll, where Tom Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, the lead singer of Arsenal. Critics warmly received this film. Audiences and critics were praiseworthy for Cruise's unexpected and surprising vocal chops, which had he been in training for months beforehand.