Tom Cruise; to some just a crazed Scientology fanatic with an edgy demeanour and Cheshire cat grin who likes to jump and rant on talk show sofa’s. But to many others, myself included, one of the most accomplished, skilled and watchable actors not just of an era but for decades lasting back to the classic Brando performances.

He may be pint sized, and some of the films he has starred in have not exactly complemented his immense talent, but no matter how cheesy, mainstream or far from the usual platform for great acting exhibitions (see the Oscar magnet films/performances of Daniel Day Lewis, Kate Winslet et al) his celluloid vehicles are, the Cruiser always shines. Here are five examples of the pocket dynamo at his best:

Vincent – Collateral

Before playing Vincent; the cold blooded, stone hearted hit-man facing off against Jamie Foxx’s everyman cab driver, Tom Cruise had rarely played any role which wasn’t crammed with likeability and heroism. But as the blockbuster opportunities quietened and age began to rear its head, Cruise cleverly changed his career path onto a treacherous route of playing a character that is a polar opposite to his usual type cast.

…Tom Cruise steals the show.

Undoubtedly a gamble, but one that paid off; Cruise brought a steely, uncompromising magnetism to his silver haired, sharp suited killer. In any other film from the genre, the main character would always be the good guy, but in Michael Mann’s Collateral Tom Cruise steals the show.

Les Grossman – Tropic Thunder

There are great cameo performances and then there is Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. Unrecognisable at first, partly due to the costume of an overweight, balding, gorilla handed mogul, but also due to Cruise’s extremely energetic body grinds and sporadic screaming fits when faced with the slightest of inconveniences from his soppy assistant.

Cruise is grimy, hilarious and profoundly shocking…

A performance which looks like it has been concocted by a Stella Adler school method actor, Cruise is grimy, hilarious and profoundly shocking in the performance that proved he can do funny just as well as he can do serious.

Charlie Babbitt – Rain Man

Essentially a road movie, Rain Man see’s Cruise in a profoundly emotional family drama. After a string of testosterone fuelled action films, he was at the stage in his career where he could have easily slipped into only obtaining roles similar to his previous efforts, as many actors do. Fortunately Barry Levinson’s Rain Man was the perfect role for Cruise to express his diversity and show us that he can perform with the best, in this case Dustin Hoffman as his estranged autistic brother Raymond.

Pacino-esque at times with his outbursts and uncontrollable frustration…

All eyes are on Hoffman and rightly so for his outstanding performance, but Cruise supports him with a mature and refined subtlety. Pacino-esque at times with his outbursts and uncontrollable frustration as the ill-advised brother, but where other actors may have challenged Hoffman for the spotlight, instead Cruise understands the importance of strong support.

Images courtesy of Tom Cruise, Rain Man, Collateral and Tropic Thunder



About The Author

I am a film enthusiast and creative writer. Feel free to visit my personal website at

3 Responses

  1. Benjamin Cisco

    You’re kidding, right?
    Being a student of the arts as well, and for over 40 years, I would never, ever put Brando and Cruise in the same category. He brings the same to each and every role.


  2. Jamie Baker | Media Editor

    I’m not kidding unfortunately.

    I commented that Cruise’s performances are as good as any “for decades lasting back to the classic Brando performances”. Not necessarily including Brando as well.

    My intention was not to compare the two actors.



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