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Tom Cruise: 7 Memorable Non-Action Roles to Revisit on His 61st Birthday – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Tom Cruise | 7 non-action roles of Tom Cruise to rewatch on his 61st birthday

From performing death-defying stunts like hanging from the side of a plane to scaling the tallest building in the world and piloting an F/A-18 jet, Tom Cruise has consistently pushed the boundaries of action sequences throughout his illustrious career. However, Cruise has also showcased his versatility and talent in a variety of non-action films over the span of four decades. As we eagerly anticipate his upcoming film, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, let’s take a look at seven films where Cruise truly shone.

Joel Goodsen in Risky Business (1983)

After appearing in several movies in the early 1980s, a young Tom Cruise portrayed Joel Goodsen, a high-achieving high school senior, in Paul Brickman’s teen sex comedy drama, Risky Business. This breakthrough role solidified Cruise’s status as a heartthrob in Hollywood. One iconic scene from the film features Cruise dancing around in the living room wearing briefs and a buttoned-down shirt while Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” plays in the background.

Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Following the success of Top Gun (1986), Cruise took on the role of the street-smart wheeler-dealer Charlie Babbitt in Barry Levinson’s road movie Rain Man. Co-starring alongside Dustin Hoffman, who won an Academy Award for his performance, Cruise portrayed a character who initially wants to swindle his autistic older half-brother Raymond out of their father’s inheritance. However, as the film progresses and the two embark on a journey together, Charlie experiences a change of heart. Cruise expertly balanced the cold and tender aspects of his character.

Lt. Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men (1992)

In the film adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s renowned courtroom drama, Cruise played Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, an honest navy lawyer determined to uncover the truth in a sensitive case involving a US marine who was tortured to death by his comrades. The film’s gripping nature stems from the delicate nature of the case and the complex ideologies of the accused. Cruise’s courtroom exchanges with Jack Nicholson’s character are particularly captivating. The film also featured Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, J. T. Walsh, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kiefer Sutherland.

Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cruise portrayed the titular character in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 romantic sports comedy drama, alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger. Jerry Maguire is a successful sports agent who wants to establish more personal connections with his clients. However, when his ideas clash with the agency’s preferences, he is fired and left with only one client. Despite this setback, Jerry devotes himself to his client while also navigating his dysfunctional personal life. Cruise’s nuanced performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

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Dr. William Harford in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

In 1999, Cruise collaborated with his then-wife Nicole Kidman in filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s erotic mystery psychological drama, Eyes Wide Shut. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), the film follows Dr. William Harford’s (Cruise) journey as he becomes entangled in a masked orgy organized by a secret society after his wife Alice (Kidman) reveals her contemplation of infidelity. Cruise’s character grapples with confusion surrounding his most cherished relationship and seeks to break free from the monotony of his life.

Frank Mackey in Magnolia (1999)

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological drama Magnolia, Cruise portrays Frank Mackey, a motivational speaker and pickup artist. Although the film consists of three seemingly unrelated stories, Cruise makes a lasting impression with his portrayal of Frank. When Frank learns about his estranged father’s critical condition, he faces a dilemma regarding whether to reconcile with him or not. Cruise skillfully captures the duality of his character, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder (2008)

In Ben Stiller’s 2008 spoof action comedy, Cruise delivers a remarkable performance as Les Grossman, a baldheaded, foul-mouthed, and ill-tempered studio executive overseeing the production of a high-budget Vietnam war drama film called Tropic Thunder. Cruise’s comedic skills shine through in this role, particularly in his dynamic interactions with his assistant, portrayed by Bill Hader. Keep an eye out for Cruise’s memorable dance sequence to Ludacris’ “Get Back” during the end credits.

From hanging by the side of a plane to climbing the tallest building in the world and flying a F/A-18 jet, Tom Cruise has done it all himself. When it comes to action sequences, the Hollywood star who turned 61 today still goes the extra mile. But alongside his penchant for extremely risky stunts, Cruise has left a mark with his talent in several non-action films over his four-decade-long career. As we count down to his next film, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Twowe pick seven films where Cruise shone for his versatility.

Joel Goodsen in Risky Business (1983)

After starring in a few movies in the early 1980s, a young Tom Cruise played a high-achieving high school senior, Joel Goodsen, in Paul Brickman’s teen sex comedy drama. Risky Business turned out to be his breakthrough role and established Cruise as a heartthrob in Hollywood. Cruise dancing around in the living room in briefs and a buttoned-down shirt to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll is an iconic scene from the film.

Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Following the success of Top Gun (1986), Cruise showed up on screen as the street-smart wheeler-dealer Charlie Babbitt in Barry Levinson’s road movie Rain Man, co-starring Dustin Hoffman who won an Academy Award for his performance. Charlie wants to rob his autistic older half-brother Raymond (Hoffman) of the chunk of their father’s property that he inherited. During the course of the film, Charlie has a change of heart after he and Raymond hit the road and spend a lot of time together, and Cruise struck a fine balance between the cold and the tender aspects of his character.

Lt. Daniel Coffee in A Few Good Men (1992)

In the film adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s famous courtroom drama, Cruise plays Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, an honest navy lawyer who wants to unravel the truth in a sensitive case he has been handed. The case is about a US marine who was tortured to death by his comrades. The delicate nature of the case coupled with the complex ideologies of the accused makes A Few Good Men a gripping watch. The back-and-forth between Jack Nicholson and Cruise’s characters in the courtroom is one of the top draws of the film which also starred Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, J. T. Walsh, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kiefer Sutherland.

Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire (1996)

Cruise played the titular character in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 romantic sports comedy drama alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger. Jerry is a successful sports agent working for a high-profile sports management company and wants to forge a more personal bond with his clients. However, the agency doesn’t like his ideas and fires him and he ends up with only one client. He gives all his efforts to his client while also sorting his dysfunctional personal life. Cruise’s nuanced performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Dr. William Harford in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

In 1999, Cruise collaborated with his then-wife Nicole Kidman in filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s erotic mystery psychological drama Eyes Wide Shut. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story)the film chronicles Dr William Harford’s (Cruise) escapade in a masked orgy organised by a secret society after his wife Alice (Kidman) reveals that she had contemplated having an affair. Cruise plays a man who is confused about his most cherished relationship and wants to break the pattern of his mundane life with little knowledge of how it was going to impact his life.

Frank Mackey in Magnolia (1999)

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological drama MagnoliaCruise is a motivational speaker and pickup artist named Frank Mackey. Designed in three seemingly unrelated stories, the film doesn’t offer Cruise a lot of screen time but he leaves a lasting impression within that. Frank learns about his estranged father’s critical condition and suffers from a dilemma of whether to reconcile with him or not. Cruise plays the duality of the character with spectacular extravagance. It also earned him his only supporting actor Oscar nomination.

Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder (2008)

A virtually unrecognisable Cruise took cine-goers by storm in Ben Stiller’s 2008 spoof action comedy alongside the likes of Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Bill Hader and Stiller himself. Cruise plays Les Grossman, a baldheaded, foul-mouthed and ill-tempered studio executive producing a high-budget Vietnam war drama film Tropic Thunder. Cruise knocks it out of the park by showcasing his comedic skills. His crackling chemistry with his assistant, played by Bill Hader, is one of the highlights of the film. Watch out for Cruise dancing to Ludacris’ Get Back in the end credits.

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