Nowadays, Tom Cruise is mostly renowned as an action star who has undertaken so many difficult assignments that stunt coordinators must constantly find new ways to outdo themselves. But Cruise hasn’t always been the ultimate action hero that the public perceives him to be. In fact, prior to winning the character of Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible film series, the actor appeared in a number of films that highlighted his other acting abilities.

There are a few movies in particular that need special notice since they demonstrate Tom Cruise’s effectiveness as both a leading man and a supporting character to varying degrees. All of them are off the beaten path in terms of his action, and each one has that one-of-a-kind spark that distinguishes a Tom Cruise film.

Tom Cruise was cast in legendary teen films of the 1980s including All The Right Moves and, most notably, Risky Business early in his career. Cruise plays Joel, an adolescent who gets himself involved in a scam that involves prostitution, damaging a Porsche, and needing to replace an expensive vase in a John Hughes-style comedy. That explains why he can play a comedy role very efficiently as well.
The character-driven drama was an area that gave many excellent prospects before making the transition to action-packed spectacle, but after passing his years as the dewy-eyed youthful darling Tom Cruise once symbolized. A Few Good Men was the movie where he showed everyone that a dramatic role is nothing for his acting skills.
Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise reunited in 2001 for Vanilla Sky, a remake of the Spanish classic Abre Los Ojos in English. Rather than returning to the same mill that made Jerry Maguire famous, Crowe developed Cruise’s character, David Ames, for one very important reason which was to participate in a mind-bending mystery that is still one of the best rugs pulled in any picture.
Previously, we saw the crucial lesson that, while Tom Cruise films benefit from playing him as a hero, it’s even better to let him go dark now and again. As luck would have it, Cruise was cast as Vincent, a hitman on a very perilous assignment, in Michael Mann’s film Collateral, which would take that advice with interest. Tom Cruise as a villain is uneasy to hear but his performance was outstanding.
The dynamic duo of Tom Cruise and Steven Speilberg adapted H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and it was one of the two films they made together, and it refreshingly modernized a sci-fi classic. As Martian invaders begin to take over the Earth, Cruise’s Ray Ferrier, in one of his few roles as a movie father, strives to identify and defend members of his on-screen family.
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