It’s been 36 years since Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster film Top Gun (1986) hit the big screens.
Now, Mission: Impossible megastar Tom Cruise, who played the lead role of Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the 1986 film, has returned in the sequel Top Gun: Maverick released in May this year.
The action-packed film, directed by Joseph Kosinski, passed US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) at the global box office by the end of June 2022.
Just as his new film hits the charts, the actor is getting ready for yet another milestone — his 60th birthday on July 3. He will reportedly throw two A-list parties: One in the exclusive members’ club Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds in the UK, and the other in the US with his American friends.
He recently promoted his most successful film to date in Seoul, South Korea. He was seen greeting fans outside Gimpo International Airport wearing a form-fitting beige polo shirt, classic aviator sunglasses and of course, his timeless superstar smile — looking as good as ever.
Aside from milestones, there have also been some unforgettable, and sometimes controversial, moments in Cruise’s 40-year-long acting career.
His connection to the Church of Scientology
Since the Church of Scientology started in 1954, several celebrities have been recruited as part of Project Celebrity — a programme that allegedly rewards existing Scientologists who bring in the biggest Hollywood stars.
So when an upcoming Cruise joined the Church through Mimi Rogers in 1986, he soon became a public advocate for the religion, one that deems psychiatry as evil.
From then on, his connection to Scientology became a controversial topic, as he faced accusations such as slave labour towards other members and brainwashing his oldest children, Isabella and Connor. According to former Scientologist Sam Domingo in 2019, they are being used as leverage for the church.
A 2012 story by Vanity Fair revealed that some Scientology leaders have even auditioned potential wives for Cruise.
His marriage to Nicole Kidman
Throughout the 1990s, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were the power couple — it was love at first sight for both of them.
“He basically swept me off my feet,” Kidman told Vanity Fair in 2002, as she recalled her first interaction with Cruise. “I fell madly, passionately in love.”
But even though they had immense fame and adopted their children Connor and Isabella in a seemingly perfect marriage, the couple split in 2001.
While the reasons behind their divorce remain unclear, some have attributed it to Cruise’s involvement in Scientology. Based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear and Alex Gibney’s documentary, the church’s leaders might have conspired to fracture their marriage.
He jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch while proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes
During an episode on The Oprah Winfrey Show in May 2005, Cruise’s relationship with Katie Holmes, his former girlfriend now turned ex-wife, was relatively new.
Cruise couldn’t seem to contain his excitement, as he jumped on Oprah’s couch mid-conversation. Oprah, who is usually able to empathise with her guests said: “He’s gone. He’s gone. The boy is gone.”
While the audience found Cruise’s adoration sweet at the time, some thought otherwise, resulting in cascading parodies and memes online — most of which were negative.
His marriage to Holmes
Cruise’s third marriage was to Dawson’s Creek star Katie Holmes in 2006, held shortly after the birth of their daughter, Suri, that same year.
Six years later, Holmes filed for a divorce — one that Cruise apparently had not anticipated. Although they have yet to reveal details about their split, rumours have circulated around the Church’s recurring involvement.
When asked whether the split was partly “to protect Suri from Scientology” by a lawyer in 2013, Cruise said: “Did she say that? That was one of the assertions, yes.”
He called Brooke Shields ‘irresponsible’ for a comment about antidepressants
Back in the summer of 2005, actress Brooke Shields came out with a book called Down Came the Rain — a narrative that follows her journey through post-partum depression after giving birth to her daughter, Rowan Francis Henchy.
Cruise, who was heavily involved with Scientology and condemned mind-altering substances, then criticised her for using antidepressants as a “cure”. He says that there is no scientific evidence to substantiate this, and suggested women use “vitamins and exercise” instead.
“Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women who are experiencing post-partum depression decide what treatment options are best for them,” Shields responded.
He allegedly compared acting to fighting a war in Afghanistan
In 2013, gossip website TMZ took quotes out of legal documents from a US$50 million libel suit between Cruise and another newspaper related to child abandonment over his daughter, Suri. The article accused him of comparing acting to fighting a war in Afghanistan, sparking public outrage.
“And certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal,” he said in the legal document.
However, CNN’s Jake Tapper defused the rumour, concluding that the selected quotes were taken heavily out of context. While Cruise does find “making a movie” difficult, he makes clear that it is not equivalent to serving in the military, Tapper said.
Cruise defends doing his own stunts
Most Hollywood actors usually have stunt doubles for action-heavy films, but not Tom Cruise — he does his own stunts.
From holding his breath for six minutes underwater and hanging on the side of a huge Airbus A400M military transport plane in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation to doing 106 skydiving trial sessions for Mission: Impossible — Fallout with a broken ankle, Cruise has stayed committed to it all.
When The Hollywood Reporter asked him why he does all this during a talk at the Cannes Film Festival held in May, the actor says: “No one asked Gene Kelly, ‘Why do you dance? Why do you do your own dancing?”
He shouted and swore at Mission: Impossible crew for breaching Covid-19 regulations
The Sun posted an audio recording of Cruise shouting at two Mission: Impossible 7 crew members for standing less than a metre away from each other by a computer screen.
“I don’t ever want to see it again, ever! And if you don’t do it, you’re fired, if I see you do it again, you’re f***ing gone,” he said in the recording.
The Hollywood megastar added: “No apologies. You can tell it to the people that are losing their f***ing homes because our industry is shut down. It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education.”
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