Born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, on July 3, 1962, in Syracuse,
New York. His family moved around a great deal when Cruise was
a child in order to accommodate his father’s career as an electrical
engineer. Cruise’s parents divorced when he was 11, and the children
moved with their mother to Louisville, Kentucky, and then to Glen
Ridge, New Jersey, after her remarriage. Like his mother, a teacher
and amateur actress, and his three sisters, Cruise suffered from
dyslexia, which made academic success difficult for him. He excelled
in athletics, however, and had considered pursuing a career in
professional wrestling until a knee injury sidelined him during
high school in Glen Ridge. At age 14, Cruise enrolled in a Franciscan
seminary with thoughts of becoming a priest, but he left after
a year. When he was 16, a teacher encouraged him to participate
in the school’s production of the musical Guys and Dolls. After
Cruise won the lead of Nathan Detroit, he found himself surprisingly
at home on the stage, and a career was born.
Cruise set a 10-year deadline for himself in which to build an
acting career. He left school and moved to New York, struggling
through audition after audition before landing an appearance in
1981’s Endless Love, starring Brooke Shields, and a small role
in the military school drama Taps, also released in 1981 and costarring
Sean Penn. His role in Taps was upgraded after director Harold
Becker saw Cruise’s potential, and his performance caught the
attention of a number of critics and filmmakers. In 1983, Cruise
appeared in The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, alongside
Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, all prominent members of
a group of young actors that the entertainment press had dubbed
the “Brat Pack.” The film was not well received, but it allowed
Cruise to work with an acclaimed director in a high-profile project.
His next film, Risky Business (1983), grossed $65 million and
immediately made Cruise a highly recognizable actor, thanks in
no small part to a memorable scene of the young actor dancing
in his underwear.
In 1986, after a nearly two-year hiatus, the budding film star
released the big-budget fantasy film Legend, which did poorly
at the box office. That same year, however, Cruise’s A-list status
was confirmed with the release of Top Gun, a testoterone-fueled
action-romance set against the backdrop of an elite naval flight
school, and costarring Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, and Meg
Ryan. The film became the biggest-grossing film of 1986. Cruise
followed up on the tremendous success of Top Gun with a string
of both critically acclaimed and commercially successful films,
including The Color of Money (1986), costarring Paul Newman, Rain
Man (1988), costarring Dustin Hoffman, and director Oliver Stone’s
Born on the Fourth of July (1989), for which Cruise received an
Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Cruise married the actress Mimi Rogers in 1987; the couple divorced
in 1990, the same year in which Cruise made the race-car drama
Days of Thunder with a young Australian actress named Nicole Kidman.
Though the movie was formulaic and a relative failure among critics
and at the box office, the two lead actors had real chemistry.
On Christmas Eve, 1990, Cruise and Kidman were married in Telluride,
Colorado, after a whirlwind courtship.
In 1992, Cruise proved once more that he could hold his own opposite
a screen legend—in this case his heavy-hitting costar was Jack
Nicholson—in the military courtroom drama, A Few Good Men. Demi
Moore also starred. Over the next several years, Cruise made a
few moderately well received movies, including The Firm (1993)
and Interview with a Vampire (1994), costarring Brad Pitt, before
breaking out again in 1996 with two huge hits—the $64 million
blockbuster, Mission: Impossible, which Cruise also produced,
and the highly acclaimed Jerry McGuire, directed by Cameron Crowe.
For the latter, Cruise earned a second Academy Award nomination
and a second Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Cruise and Kidman spent much of 1997 and 1998 in England, shooting
Eyes Wide Shut, an erotic thriller that would be acclaimed director
Stanley Kubrick’s final film before his death in 1999. The movie
was released in the summer of 1999 to mixed reviews. In 1999,
Cruise appeared in the critically acclaimed ensemble film Magnolia,
turning in a much-talked-about performance as a self-confident
sex guru that earned him a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award
nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2000, Cruise starred
in the long-awaited smash hit Mission: Impossible 2, alongside
Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, and Ving Rhames. Recent projects
include Vanilla Sky, his second collaboration with director Cameron
Crowe, and Minority Report, a project directed by Steven Spielberg.
Over the years, Cruise has fiercely defended the happiness and
the legitimacy of his marriage, and with Kidman has filed two
different lawsuits against tabloid publications for stories he
considered libelous. In each case the couple received a published
retraction and apology, along with a large monetary settlement,
which they donated to charity.
On February 5, 2001, Cruise and Kidman announced their separation
after 11 years of marriage. The couple cited the difficulties
involved with two acting careers and the amount of time spent
apart while both are working. Cruise filed for divorce shortly
thereafter. The publicity surrounding the surprising breakup continued
throughout the spring, as Kidman's publicist confirmed in late
March that the actress suffered a miscarriage roughly one month
after the separation was announced. The Cruise-Kidman divorce
was finalized in August 2001. The couple have two adopted children,
Isabella and Connor.
Cruise is currently dating his Vanilla Sky costar, the Spanish
actress Penélope Cruz.