From Ethan Hunt to Jerry Maguire to Jack Reacher to Maverick, Tom Cruise is the man of many movies. He’s starred in some of the most popular films since the ’80s. But, believe it or not, there are probably some roles you totally forgot he once played — that’s how many projects he’s starred in.
Of course, Cruise is known for the Mission Impossible franchise, for dancing in his underwear in Risky Business, for going toe to toe with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men and for yelling, “Show me the money!” in Jerry Maguire. And he’s still going strong. Fans will soon be able to watch him in the sixth Mission Impossible, titled Mission Impossible: Fallout. Oh, and he’s also starring in the Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.
He can’t be stopped, can he? Cruise has certainly made an impact with his career, but let’s take a moment to discuss some of his earlier and more obscure roles.
1. Endless Love
In 1981, Cruise debuted in Endless Love, his first movie ever. It also featured Brooke Shields (who Cruise later had beef with) and Martin Hewitt in the leading roles. Based on the scene here, where his character talks about being “into arson” at the age of 8, you can see how far he’s come. And yes, the hit ballad “Endless Love” from Lionel Richie and Diana Ross was recorded for the film.
Does anyone remember this 1981 military movie that featured not only Cruise but also George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Evan Handler and Giancarlo Esposito? As you can see in the clip, Cruise could march like no other.
3. The Outsiders
The Outsiders, based on the book of the same name by S. E. Hinton, had a huge cast. Cruise definitely wasn’t the only famous face. C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane and Leif Garrett also starred. As Steve, Cruise made a name for himself — especially with his cake scream.
4. Losin’ It
Set in 1965, this 1983 flick sounds like the typical old-school teen movie about three boys on a journey to lose their virginity. They even head to Mexico to accomplish their task. Also, appropriately, Cruise’s character’s name is Woody.
5. All the Right Moves
If you don’t remember this movie, Cruise played a high school football player named Stefan “Stef” Djordjevic. Stef’s goal was to achieve a college scholarship in order to escape his small town and make more of himself. All the Right Moves also starred Craig T. Nelson and Lea Thompson.
Legend just might blow your mind. Cruise co-starred with Mia Sarah (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) in this 1985 movie directed by Ridley Scott. There are unicorns involved, and Cruise’s character is trying to stop the Lord of Darkness from destroying daylight altogether. You really need to watch the trailer to experience it for yourself.
7. The Color of Money
Starring alongside Paul Newman in this 1986 movie, Cruise played a talented pool player. According to Mental Floss, Cruise did most of his own pool stunts. You can see from the clip exactly how much he had to train.
8. Far and Away
In 1992, Cruise and his then-wife, Nicole Kidman, starred as love interests in Ron Howard’s Far and Away. They played an Irish couple looking to settle in America. We haven’t watched this movie in a long time, but last we remember, it’s a pretty decent film.
9. Playing Austin Powers in Goldmember
Anyone remember Cruise’s cameo in Austin Powers: Goldmember? He played Austin Powers. OK, a version of Austin Powers. The joke is that Steven Spielberg is creating a movie about the international man of mystery and loading it with stars: Danny DeVito as Mini-Me, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil and Gwyneth Paltrow as Dixie, Austin’s love interest.
10. War of the Worlds
In 2005, Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto and Justin Chatwin starred together in War of the Worlds. It’s kind of a forgettable movie, but once again, Cruise can be seen doing a lot of running, battling the villain (aliens) and getting in the middle of all the action.
11. Tropic Thunder
If you’ve seen Tropic Thunder, you may not have realized that Cruise plays Les Grossman. Yes, he’s unrecognizable, but that’s the point. He even busts out dance moves at the end. This supporting character also scored Cruise a Golden Globe nomination.
12. Knight and Day
We honestly don’t even remember this movie being released, but Cruise and Cameron Diaz starred in Knight and Day together in 2010. In no surprise whatsoever, Cruise plays — wait for it — a spy.
13. Rock of Ages
Finally, there’s Rock of Ages. Yes, this is a more current movie, but who else forgets Cruise is in it — and that he sings?! As Stacee Jaxx, Cruise channels his inner rocker and dons a lot of tattoos. It’s definitely a different look for him, and we always have to adjust to seeing Cruise belting out classic rock hits.