Tom Cruise, the last movie star? His career cannot be copied

Looking back over his 40-year career shows that making deliberate, wise decisions impossible for today’s stars were key to his support.

In a nod to the end-of-cinema meme, it’s easy to use “Top Gun: Maverick” — and its presumed dominance at the box office — as proof that Tom Cruise is the last movie star. This is nonsense, of course; Current Hollywood hit drivers include Sandra Bullock, Tom Holland, Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Reynolds. Timothee Chalamet is a rising star; That’s Lady Gaga.

Cruise’s long-awaited sequel to his biggest hits started at $19.26 million in preview and could gross $150 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. Cruise may not be the last star, and he certainly won’t be – but his path to stardom is one that no one can walk anymore. Unlike almost all – Everyone – otherwise he doesn’t do television in Hollywood, but he could become the first actor to make a movie in space.

Maverick is his 42nd film as a lead actor; Adjusted for 2019 ticket prices, they grossed over $10 billion domestically, with 10 of his films reaching $200 million or more. In that sort of raw accounting, Harrison Ford is a “bigger” star thanks to the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, along with plenty of standalone hits. Marvel will similarly skew box office numbers for stars like Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson.

Not Tom Cruise. While his Mission: Impossible franchise has grossed over $1.6 billion at the domestic box office to date, the vast majority of his success has come from standalone films. Nor is he inspired by awards; Though considered a nuanced performer who has excelled in romantic, action, comedic, and dramatic roles, he has received three Academy Award nominations and no awards from major critical groups. Tom Cruise may be the last movie star to rise without the brawn of the franchise, at a time when movie-going habits still made it possible.

Here are some of the notable elements that set him apart from most younger current stars:

Avoid eclectic films, franchises

Cruise made his biggest hit, “Top Gun,” 36 years ago — a time that saw sequels and franchises with titles like “Rocky,” “Rambo,” “The Karate Kid,” “Romancing the Stone,” and “Star Trek.” In contrast, “Top Gun” was a bigger hit than all but “Rocky”.

At this point, Cruise’s career was no longer entirely under his control; he was an actor, not a producer. But at 23 he was suddenly a star.

Two years earlier, his leading actor debut in Risky Business promised a great career. He stumbled with his next film, wrestling drama All the Right Moves, in 1983; Ridley Scott’s “Legend” also dampened its promise.

His next film, which was already filming when Top Gun opened, was The Color of Money. You can argue that it was a sequel of sorts (to 1961’s The Hustler, more than two decades earlier), but it took 15 years and 13 films, all grossing more than $100 million, before his first real sequel shot “Mission: Impossible 2”. This development is unthinkable today.

The very best filmmakers

Cruise may be known as a control freak, but he’s clearly not afraid to work with strong filmmakers. He has worked with seven Academy Award winners for best director (including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick), as well as Paul Thomas Anderson, John Woo (the only non-white among them), Brad Bird and the Scotts, Ridley and Tony . There have been fewer of those in recent years as it’s harder to establish a reputation as a director in a more producer-centric era.

In some cases, the Cruise films were not iconoclastic works; Titles like The War of the Worlds and The Color of Money were commercial and purchasable. However, Oliver Stone won with Born on the Fourth of July, as did Barry Levinson with Rain Man.

Successful with iconic stars

Cruise came along when it was more common to pair an aspiring actor with an established veteran. His first pairing was with Paul Newman in The Color of Money, followed by Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man), Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men), Gene Hackman (The Firm) and Meryl Streep ( “Lions for lambs”). He shared the lead role in Collateral the same year Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for Ray. Cruise’s ability to hold his own against titans reinforced his reputation as someone confident in his own talent and ready to share the spotlight.

Less is more

There is, of course, Scientology. (“It’s something that’s helped me tremendously in my life,” he told ITV in 2016. “I’ve been a Scientologist for over 30 years. It’s something I wouldn’t be where I am without it. So it’s one beautiful religion, I’m incredibly proud.” There has been little press about the club in recent years – in large part because there is so little press about them in the first place.

Try to imagine Cruise maintaining an Instagram profile or posting TikToks. He avoids interviews – print media, talk shows and others. He has no politics. He’s the anti-Dwayne Johnson, who has over 300 million Instagram followers and loves to give his fans surprise appearances (or, in a memorable case, wedding officer).

Cruise is almost empty. His recent MasterClass interview in Cannes, part of the marketing push for Top Gun: Maverick, was known for its impressive tedium. At a time when stars are being pushed to make themselves appear relatable or otherwise “real,” Cruise cultivates an image that has more in common with past champions like Cary Grant and John Wayne.

At 59, Cruise is the last star of this form. “Top Gun: Maverick” is a very different film than its predecessor, which also seems to be typical Cruise: surprise people, be patient, expect state-of-the-art craftsmanship. It suits his career, even if the film still seems to stand a little apart from the current cinema successes.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/05/tom-cruise-the-last-movie-star-career-cant-be-copied-1234728380/ Tom Cruise, the last movie star? His career cannot be copied

Lindsay Lowe

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