This month, the sixth entry of the Mission Impossible series, Mission Impossible: Fallout, finally hits theaters. And while action-movie fans are no doubt on the edge of their seats awaiting yet another high-octane romp, there’s another thing to celebrate: Tom Cruise, the franchise’s A-list driving force. With an illustrious career spanning four decades (and an equally entertaining personal life spanning just as long), Cruise has become more than a mere household name—he’s become an international icon. An ageless wonder. And a one-man wow factory, especially when it comes to performing his movies’ epic stunts.
In celebration of the much-awaited Fallout, we took a look behind the headlines to present you the strangest, most mind-boggling facts about Tom Cruise we could find. So read on to learn more about one the biggest movie stars to ever walk the earth. And for more awe-inspiring celebrity coverage, don’t miss The 30 Best Celebrity Style Evolutions.
Disney modeled a certain beloved character after Cruise.
If you’ve ever spotted a slight similarity between Tom Cruise and Aladdin from the Disney film with the same title, then it might be because the animators at Disney actually borrowed features from Cruise’s face and hair to make the character more likable. True story! And for more stories about everyone’s favorite animated studio, don’t miss the 20 Secrets Disney Employees Don’t Want You to Know.
He divorced all of his wives when they were 33 years-old.
Cruise has three ex-wives: Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes. In a crazy coincidence, they were all 33 years old at the time of the split. (Cue the eerie music now…) And for more ridiculous knowledge, here are 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe.
He’s credited with saving the sunglasses company Ray-Ban.
It’s hard to believe it now, but in 1981, the sunglasses company Ray-Ban was in trouble. The now-ubiquitous Wayfarer sold only 18,000 models that year. But, as it turns out, with the help of a little product placement paid for by Ray-Ban, Cruise singlehandedly saved the entire business, thanks to the shades’ prominent cameos in Cruise’s films Risky Business, Top Gun, and Rain Man. In fact, the year Top Gun was released (1986), Ray-Ban enjoyed a 40 percent increase in sales.
He improvised the Risky Business dance.
In a scene that took half a day to film, Cruise showed off his best moves by completely improvising the famous dance after following this simple piece of instruction in the film’s script: “Joel dances in underwear through the house.”
Cruise could’ve been Iron Man.
Before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the kickoff to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, the part was first offered to Cruise, who declined the role. And for more amazing casting what-ifs, don’t miss this list of 50 Iconic Movie Roles That Almost Went to Someone Else.
Some say Cruise believes to possess healing powers.
According to Tony Ortega, editor of the Scientology watchdog blog The Underground Bunker, Cruise, after reaching the Operating Thetan VI level in the Church of Scientology, claimed that he’d gained the power to heal sprained joints, colds, sore throats, and more—all with just a simple touch. In a leaked Scientology propaganda video, Cruise said, “When you drive past an accident, it’s not like anyone else. If you drive past, you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can really help.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Cruise refuses to be an action figure.
Since the beginning of his action movie days, Cruise has vehemently and repeatedly denied requests for his likeness to be made into video games and action figures (though it appears this one slipped through the cracks). Sorry, but Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt will not be popping up on your PlayStation any time soon.
He can hold his breath forever.
While filming for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Cruise ended up holding his breath underwater for more than six minutes. “I have done a lot of underwater sequences. But we wanted to create a suspense underwater sequence without cuts. So doing that sequence was really interesting,” Cruise told USA Today. And for more behind-the-scenes movie fun facts, here are 50 Famous Movie Lines That Were Ad-Libbed.
Cruise treats the world as his gym.
As reported in Men’s Health, Cruise prefers to head into the great outdoors to train for his grueling stunts. “Sea-kayaking, caving… fencing, treadmill, weights… rock-climbing, hiking… I jog… I do so many different activities,” said Cruise.
For the biggest star on earth he’s actually really, really great to his fans.
According to Men’s Health, Cruise is no Grinch when it comes to his fans. He normally spends more than two hours interacting with them at events. “People are really kind to come out, so I want to say hello,” he explained. Cruise—a nice guy!
Cruise eats like Beckham.
According to reports, Cruise has remained lean well into his 50s by following the Beckham diet, a strict diet regimen named after soccer star David Beckham, who is known for his 1,200-calorie-a-day diet that consists mostly of vegetables and lean proteins.
He started acting thanks to an injury.
Though Cruise enjoyed wrestling on his high school’s team, a knee injury left him unable to play, which sent him looking for another way to spend his time—and it inevitably lead him to audition for the school’s production of Guys and Dolls.
Cruise learned to dance watching Soul Train.
As a kid, Cruise memorized routines he saw on the television show Soul Train after noticing how other boys used their dancing skills to woo the ladies.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
He loves tall women.
At only 5-foot-7-inches tall, Tom Cruise is shorter than just about every woman he has ever wooed. Another fun fact: According to Vanity Fair, Nicole Kidman was once asked what she looked forward to after her marriage to Cruise ended, and she replied, “Wearing high heels again.” Burn!
He couldn’t read until he was an adult.
Until Cruise was introduced to the Church of Scientology in the late ’80s, Cruise claims that he could barely read due to a debilitating case of dyslexia. “All through school and well into my career, I felt like I had a secret,” he once told People. “When I’d go to a new school, I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability, but then I’d be sent off to remedial reading.”
Image via Reddit
Cruise nearly died on the set of The Last Samurai.
During the filming for The Last Samurai, Cruise narrowly avoided death when one of the mechanical horses used for the fight scenes malfunctioned. It caused his co-star, Hiroyuki Sanada, to swing his blade around at just the wrong time, barely stopping before hitting Cruise’s neck. “I just managed to stop my sword an inch from his neck,” Sanada described afterward.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
He’s never won an Oscar.
Maybe it’s because it feels like he’s been around forever, but we find it surprising that Cruise has never actually gone home with an Oscar. In fact, he’s only been nominated three times, for Magnolia, Jerry Maguire, and Born on the Fourth of July.
That’s his brother in Lost.
As it turns out, his brother, William Mapother, is also an actor. He appeared on the television show Lost, in which he played a surgeon who was also a sinister villain. Mapother has also had supporting roles in such films as The Zodiac, Lords of Dogtown, and the Cruise-helmed Born on the Fourth of July.
He bought his first motorcycle before he could drive.
In an appearance on The Jay Leno Show in 2013, Cruise admitted to purchasing his first of many motorcycles when he was only 10 years old. He ended up hiding it from his mother, which was probably wise, as he crashed his new bike shortly after purchase.
He didn’t initially want to become an actor.
Cruise was raised in a devout Catholic household. In fact, his first career aspiration at age 14 was to be a priest.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
He has his pilot’s license.
In 1994, he received his pilot’s license and often flies himself wherever he needs to be. Today, he owns a Gulfstream G450 that cost him upwards of $38 million.
He once showed up in drag to accept an award.
The Hasty Pudding Man of the Year is an annual award given by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals at Harvard University. In 1994, Cruise was presented this award for his outstanding work—and promptly accepted this honor dressed to the nines in a bra and heels.
He hates his teeth.
Believe it or not, Cruise was, for much of his life, terribly self-conscious of his appearance. Specifically, it was a front tooth that he’d chipped during a game of floor hockey when he was a kid. By 2002, however, he’d had enough, and apparently got braces.
He helped chase down a mugger.
In 1998, Cruise, along with his bodyguards, chased down thieves in London who nearly stole away with $153,000 worth of jewelry from his then-neighbor, Rita Simmonds. Cruise “sped to the rescue” after hearing the screams of the woman from down the road, where she was being mugged as she exited a car. And for more legendary Hollywood heroics, learn the 11 Times A-List Celebrities Became Real Life Heroes.
He once paid a woman’s hospital bill.
Just two years before he was chasing down muggers in the streets of London, the off-screen hero took Heloisa Vinhas, a 23-year-old Brazilian-born aspiring actress, to the hospital after witnessing her being struck by a car in Los Angeles. After finding out that she had no insurance to cover her bill, he paid the $7,000 bill in full.
He achieved a crazy box office milestone in 1996.
Beginning with A Few Good Men in 1992, and ending with Jerry Maguire in 1996, Cruise became the first actor ever to appear in five consecutive movies that each grossed over $100 million in the United States.
He’s a fencer in his spare time.
According to Glamour, Cruise enjoys fencing so much that he has an entire room dedicated to the sport in his mansion. He even encouraged fellow actor Will Smith and friend David Beckham to join in on the fun. “We don’t get enough time for hanging out, just us three guys, so this is his way of getting together and bonding,” says Smith.
He’s had two weddings with the same best man.
At his weddings to Nicole Kidman, in 1990, and Katie Holmes, in 2006, Cruise’s “bromance” with the controversial leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, was put on display as Miscavige took the role of best man at both ceremonies. Since the ’80s, Cruise and Miscavige had, as reported in the Daily Mail, developed a deep bond over their love of the church, often speaking in a secret language and gambling together in Las Vegas. And for more wacky Hollywood nuptials, check out the 15 Most Lavish Celebrity Weddings of All Time.
Katie Holmes always had a thing for him.
Cruise was on Holmes’ radar far before they ever laid eyes on each other in real life. When she was a teenager, Holmes plastered posters of the Top Gun star on her bedroom walls in Toledo, Ohio, dreaming of the day she would get to marry him. “I think every little girl dreams about her wedding. I used to think I was going to marry Tom Cruise,” she told Seventeen magazine. Well, lucky for Holmes, her teenage heartthrob dream marriage came true—at least for a short time.
No one loves Tom Cruise like Japan loves Tom Cruise.
On October 10, 2006, the Japan Memorial Day Association announced that they would begin celebrating every October 10th as “Tom Cruise Day” in Japan, since he had made more trips (nearly two dozen) to the country than any other Hollywood star at that time.
Image via Twitter
MTV created an award for him.
In 2005, Cruise accepted the first-ever Generation Award—given to “an artist who has shown us a variety of impressive roles, a personal and professional flair, and of course, an awesome level of talent”—at the MTV Movie Awards.
He’s a pamphlet passer.
During the filming of the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds, Cruise stayed busy between takes by handing out flyers and information packets about the Church of Scientology from a tent that he set up just outside the set.
He doesn’t see his daughter nearly as much as you probably think he does.
Though it’s been reported recently that Cruise is leaving the clutches of Scientology to be with his family (namely, his daughter Suri, pictured above), he didn’t always put his family first in matters of the church. After it was reported that Cruise was suing In Touch for $50 million over a cover story claiming he “abandoned” Suri, a court deposition revealed that he had in fact not seen her in over 100 days.
The church set up his first date with Katie Holmes.
According to Vanity Fair, the Church of Scientology set up the first date between Cruise and Holmes. In fact, the church allegedly held auditions for years in order to find “Kidman’s replacement.”
The author of Interview with a Vampire once apologized to him in the most public way imaginable.
When the casting for the 1994 big-screen adaptation of her book, Interview with a Vampire, was announced, Anne Rice publicly criticized Cruise in the role of Lestat, claiming that his performance would be nothing short of mediocre. However, after she saw the film, she changed her tune, and purchased a two-page ad in Daily Variety for a cool sum of $7,740 to apologize to Cruise. The ad stated that, “from the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons
He got injured on the set of The Outsiders.
According to Andrew Morton, author of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, the rumble between the Greasers and the Socs in the film adaptation of The Outsiders became so violent—yes, truly violent—that Cruise ended up breaking his thumb. Fellow actors Emilio Estevez and Tom Howell also got roughed up in the fake fight gone wrong.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
He actually dangled himself from the side of a plane.
Not only does Cruise hold his breath for an impossible amount of time underwater, but he also took these daredevil tendencies into the stratosphere with this insane stunt for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, in which he dangled himself off the side of a plane in the opening scene. (With a safety harness, of course.) And if you want to get your adrenaline pumping to Cruise levels, check out The Craziest Amusement Park Ride in Every State.
And a skyscraper.
In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, one scene required him to repel 163 stories down the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—the tallest building in the world. As you can see from the behind-the-scenes video, he barely broke a sweat.
…and a canyon wall.
If you watch this maneuver through the canyons in Dead Horse, Utah, you’ll have a greater appreciation for Cruise’s fearlessness.
He runs in basically every movie.
No matter the film and no matter the storyline, Tom Cruise is always running—either toward or away, doesn’t matter—some evil danger, still managing to precariously balance precariously handsome athleticism and sheer terror. In this video, you can catch a glimpse of every single one of Cruise’s terror-stricken flees. The popularity of that video inspired Cruise to add this to his bio on Instagram: “Tom Cruise: Actor. Producer. Running in movies since 1981.”
His first celebrity crush will surprise you.
In an interview with People, Cruise admitted that his first celebrity crush was on actress Ingrid Bergman in her role as Alicia Huberman in the 1946 Nazi thriller, Notorious.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
His first big purchase as a movie star is adorable.
In an interview with People, Cruise said,“I paid for one of my sisters’ college education. And my little sister worked for me when I had my paper route; I always told her I’d pay her back. I bought her a car after Risky Business.”
Cruise went from rags to riches at light speed.
When Cruise first set out for Hollywood from small-town Oklahoma, he only had $500 in his pocket. Though, fortunately for his bank account, he quickly scored his first gig as Billy in the 1981 drama Endless Love.
He missed his own high school graduation.
Because he was performing in a production of Godspell.
He was a bully magnet.
Cruise has admitted that he was severely bullied for being “different” in school.
He grew up with an abusive father.
Throughout his childhood, Cruise was beaten and bullied by his father, who deserted the family when he was young. “He was a bully and a coward,” he told Parade magazine. “He was the kind of person where if something goes wrong, they kick you.”
Paul Newman was his racing buddy.
Paul Newman and Tom Cruise became fast friends after they first met on the set of Color of Money in 1986. After this initial meeting, Newman invited Cruise to race Nissan 300ZXs in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competitions. So yes, Newman and Cruise raced around in really fast cars for fun. And speaking of famous pals, check out these 20 Celebrity Friendships You Never Knew Existed.
He switched schools a lot.
In just 12 years of school, Cruise attended 15 different schools, spanning the country from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfortunately for Cruise, this only made it harder for him to create any lasting relationships with his peers.
His film debut was in Endless Love
Cruise’s first film was the 1981 drama Endless Love, and featured a sweat-drenched run that quickly made the small-town actor famous.
He held many odd jobs to help his mother pay the bills.
Growing up, Cruise took several odd jobs to help make ends meet. “No job was too dirty or difficult for Tommy, as long as it paid money to help his mom out,” Cruise’s neighbor Bill Lewis was quoted saying.
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