More than perhaps any other modern actor, but firmly in the tradition of the Hollywood star system, Tom Cruise’s movie star persona tends to eclipse whatever character he might be playing. We may know a Mission: Impossible movie is about IMF agent Ethan Hunt going on death-defying, globetrotting adventures, but really, it’s a movie about Tom Cruise going on death-defying, globetrotting adventures. Particularly in the later, action-hero stages of his career, Cruise has become a niche within his own existing movie-star brand. The name “Pete Mitchell” might not ring an immediate bell, but “Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot”? Yeah, now we’re on solid ground.
Even so, Cruise has played a number of great roles during his legendary career - from real-life figures like Ron Kovics and Claus von Stauffenberg to larger-than-life creations like Interview with the Vampire’s charmingly predator vampire Lestat or Tropic Thunder’s bombastic Hollywood agent Les Grossman. From John Anderton in the eerily accurate sci-fi thriller Minority Report to dirtbag sexvangelist Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia. And then of course, there are the roles that need no introduction: Jerry Maguire. Jack Reacher.
The best Tom Cruise character is probably Tom Cruise himself… but other than that, who is the most memorable screen creation of his career?