Written by 9:45 pm Movies

What Made Tom Cruise Famous?

Discover the roles and events that made Tom Cruise famous, from his early heartthrob days to becomi…

A Star is Born

Tom Cruise is one of the most iconic and recognizable actors in the world, with a career spanning over four decades. From his early heartthrob days to becoming an action superstar, Cruise has captivated audiences and proven his staying power in Hollywood. But what were the pivotal moments that launched him into superstardom? Let’s take a look at the roles and events that made Tom Cruise famous.

The Early Years

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was born on July 3, 1962, in Syracuse, New York. He had a nomadic childhood, moving frequently with his engineer father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, and teacher mother, Mary Lee. A bright student with aspirations for a career in priesthood, Cruise’s plans changed when he became interested in acting during his time at Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey. He was also an avid athlete, participating in wrestling and football.

Cruise’s first taste of the spotlight came at the age of 18 when he moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting. He attended a Franciscan seminary for a time before dropping out and taking on various odd jobs to support himself while auditioning for roles. His persistence paid off, and he landed his first notable role in the 1981 film “Endless Love,” playing a small part as a friend of the male lead.

Breaking Through

Cruise’s big break came in 1983 with the release of two back-to-back films that showcased his versatility and star potential.

“Risky Business”

In “Risky Business,” Cruise played Joel Goodson, a high school student who, while his parents are away, turns his house into a brothel to earn money for a college education. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $63 million worldwide and establishing Cruise as a rising star. His performance as the charming and mischievous Joel cemented his status as a teen heartthrob, with his dance sequence in a pink dress shirt and white briefs becoming an iconic moment in ’80s cinema.

“All the Right Moves”

Released the same year as “Risky Business,” “All the Right Moves” showcased a different side of Cruise’s acting range. He played Stefan “Stef” Djordjevic, a high school football player struggling to escape his small town and find a better life. The film explored themes of class and economic struggle and featured a young Cruise delivering a nuanced and emotional performance.

Solidifying Superstar Status

The mid-1980s saw Cruise’s rise to bona fide movie star status, with a string of box office hits that made him a household name.

“Top Gun”

Released in 1986, “Top Gun” is the film that truly cemented Cruise’s superstardom. He played Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a talented but reckless naval aviator who attends the Navy’s Top Gun flight school. The film was a massive success, grossing over $350 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of that year. Cruise’s portrayal of Maverick, with his cocky attitude and unmatched flying skills, made him a cultural icon. The film also featured memorable scenes showcasing Cruise’s physical appeal, including a beach volleyball game and a shirtless scene that sent hearts aflutter.

“Top Gun” not only solidified Cruise’s status as a leading man, but it also established him as an action star. The film’s influence extended beyond the big screen, with its impact on popular culture, fashion, and even military recruitment. The film’s signature bomber jackets, aviator sunglasses, and power ballads defined an era and continue to be referenced in popular culture today.

“The Color of Money”

In 1986, Cruise also starred in “The Color of Money,” a drama directed by Martin Scorsese. He played Vincent Lauria, a young and talented but unrefined pool player who is taken under the wing of a seasoned hustler played by Paul Newman. The film received critical acclaim and earned Cruise a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This role further showcased his ability to take on complex and layered characters.

Critical Acclaim and Blockbuster Success

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw Cruise continue to dominate the box office while also taking on more dramatic roles that earned him critical acclaim.

“Rain Man”

In 1988, Cruise starred alongside Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man,” a drama about the relationship between self-centered car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) and his autistic older brother Raymond (Hoffman), whom he never knew existed. The film was a critical and commercial smash, grossing over $350 million worldwide and winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Cruise’s performance as Charlie, a man who learns to embrace his brother’s unique abilities, showcased his ability to portray complex and emotionally charged characters.

“Born on the Fourth of July”

Cruise continued to challenge himself with dramatic roles, starring in Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July” in 1989. He played Ron Kovic, a real-life paralyzed Vietnam War veteran who becomes an anti-war activist. To prepare for the role, Cruise spent time with Kovic and other paralyzed veterans, learning about their experiences and struggles. His dedication paid off, as he earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama.

“A Few Good Men”

The early 1990s saw Cruise continue to balance blockbuster fare with more dramatic roles. In 1992, he starred in “A Few Good Men,” a military courtroom drama based on the Broadway play of the same name. Cruise played Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer defending two Marines accused of murder. The film featured an all-star cast, including Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, and Kevin Bacon, and became a critical and commercial success.

Action Superstar

While Cruise had already proven his action chops in “Top Gun,” the 1990s and early 2000s saw him fully embrace the action-adventure genre, solidifying his status as one of the biggest action stars in the world.

“Mission: Impossible” Franchise

One of Cruise’s most iconic roles is as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in the “Mission: Impossible” film series. The first installment, released in 1996, was a huge success, grossing over $450 million worldwide and spawning a franchise that continues to this day. Cruise’s willingness to perform his own stunts, including the famous scene of him hanging from a wire in the CIA vault, established the franchise’s signature high-octane action and practical effects. With six films released to date and a seventh on the way, the “Mission: Impossible” series has become synonymous with Cruise’s career.

“Minority Report” and “The Last Samurai”

Cruise continued to explore the sci-fi action genre with “Minority Report” in 2002, a film set in a future where a special police unit can arrest murderers before they commit their crimes. The film was a critical and commercial success, with Cruise’s performance as Chief John Anderton praised for its complexity.

That same year, he also starred in “The Last Samurai,” playing an American military advisor sent to Japan to help train the Emperor’s troops in the art of modern warfare. The film explored themes of cultural conflict and honor and earned Cruise a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.

Recent Years and Enduring Popularity

In recent years, Cruise has continued to choose diverse and challenging roles, maintaining his status as one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood.

“Jack Reacher,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and “Top Gun: Maverick”

Cruise has reprised his role as the titular former military policeman in two “Jack Reacher” films, based on the popular book series by Lee Child. He also starred in the 2014 sci-fi action film “Edge of Tomorrow,” playing a soldier caught in a time loop who must train to defeat an alien invasion.

In 2022, Cruise returned to one of his most beloved roles, reprising Maverick in the long-awaited sequel “Top Gun: Maverick.” The film received widespread critical acclaim and became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, proving that Cruise’s star power remains as strong as ever.


How did Tom Cruise become famous?

Tom Cruise became famous through a series of successful films in the 1980s that showcased his versatility and star potential. His breakout roles in “Risky Business” and “All the Right Moves” established him as a talented young actor, and his subsequent performances in blockbuster hits like “Top Gun” and “Rain Man” solidified his status as a leading man and action superstar.

What is Tom Cruise’s most famous role?

One of Tom Cruise’s most famous roles is that of Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the “Top Gun” franchise. The original film, released in 1986, catapulted him to superstardom and made him a cultural icon. The role of Maverick, with his cocky attitude and exceptional flying skills, has become synonymous with Cruise’s public image.

What are some of Tom Cruise’s most critically acclaimed films?

Tom Cruise has received critical acclaim for his performances in a number of films. “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Jerry Maguire,” and “Magnolia” earned him Golden Globe Awards, with the first two also garnering him Academy Award nominations. His performances in “Rain Man,” “A Few Good Men,” and “The Last Samurai” also received widespread praise.

What is Tom Cruise’s net worth?

According to various sources, Tom Cruise’s net worth is estimated to be around $600 million as of 2023. His success in the film industry, including his work as a producer, and his savvy business investments have contributed to his substantial wealth.


Tom Cruise’s journey to fame is a testament to his talent, hard work, and dedication to his craft. From his early heartthrob days to becoming an action superstar, Cruise has consistently delivered memorable performances that have captivated audiences worldwide. With a career spanning over four decades and counting, he remains one of the most influential and bankable stars in Hollywood, continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to be a leading man.

So, there you have it, the story of how Tom Cruise became a household name and an enduring icon in the world of film. Now it’s your turn—leave a comment below and let us know your favorite Tom Cruise movie moment. Don’t forget to subscribe to Blue Headline to receive more engaging content like this delivered directly to your inbox!


Tags: , , , , , , , , Last modified: May 4, 2024
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