Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was born on the 3rd of July, 1962 (eerily similar to his film Born on the 4th of July), in Syracuse, New York. He was the only boy of four children. Since his father was an electrical engineer, he must have inherited his love for acting from his mother, who was a teacher. One of the reasons why he is such a well-grounded human being is because of his difficult upbringing. His family had to get by with little money after his parents divorced when he was only 12.
In his search of fame, Cruise attended drama classes and auditioned for various TV commercials. His efforts were unsuccessful, but they led to his landing a small role in the 1980 movie Endless Love.
His first major role in Taps originally consisted of one line, but the director was so taken with his performance that he decided to offer him the third biggest role in the movie. Cruise was afraid of the challenge associated with such a role, but later accepted it, prepared for such a challenge.
He was very alluring and enthusiastic in his teen roles during the early 80's, but he quickly moved on to more adult roles and movie star status. By the early 90's, he moved up the ranks to become one of the most respected and well-paid superstars of his generation. Basically, any movie that featured Cruise was a box-office hit.
His acting career really began because he injured his knee in high school and was forced to quit the amateur wrestling team. He took on the role of Nathan Detroit in the high school production of Guys and Dolls. He was so infatuated with acting in high school that he dropped out during his senior year and went on to pursue his dream.
He arrived in LA in 81 and met Paula Wagner, an agent at Creative Artists Agency. After his primitive roles in Endless Love and Taps, he landed the starring role in Losin' It.
He was cast in 1983 in The Outsiders, a Francis Ford Coppola production. He starred alongside a talented young cast that included hotshots such as Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, and Ralph Macchio. This role became a stepping stone for the rest of his career, especially for his role in Risky Business that same year.
His popularity took a beating in movies like All the Right Moves in 1983, followed by Legend in 1985. Cruise's career began to solidify during his signature hit of the 1980s, Top Gun.
Another big success was Cruise's role in The Color of Money, alongside Paul Newman in 1986. This Martin Scorsese production moved his professional image from the boy-next-door to a more confident and cocky young man with an attitude. This was later portrayed in Cocktail (1988) and Days of Thunder (1990).
He proved his dramatic talents in the 1988 drama Rain Man, where he co-starred with Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman. Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July (1989) earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his hard-hitting portrayal of anti-war activist Ron Kovic.
Cruise fell short for his role in Far and Away (1992) with co-star Nicole Kidman, who he later married in 1990 after sharing the screen once again in Days of Thunder.
His commercial comeback began with movies like A Few Good Men (1992), where he successfully confronted the legendary Jack Nicholson. He played a lawyer once again in the thriller The Firm (1993). Both of these movies provided great box-office returns.
Striving to take on even bigger roles (and paychecks), he starred in Interview With The Vampire (1994), alongside Brad Pitt; and Mission: Impossible (1996), based on a 1960's TV show, which had a huge budget of approximately $67 million, and was long-awaited by fans.
Now a producer and actor, Cruise's resume also includes Jerry Maguire, with the pouty-lipped Renee Zellweger, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, and the Summer 2000 mega blockbuster, Mission: Impossible 2.
Cruise and his wife of 10 years, Nicole Kidman, filed for divorce in February 2001.
He has since been seen with Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz, his Vanilla Sky co-star. Keeping with the science-fiction theme of Vanilla Sky, Cruise's next starring role is Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. A third Mission Impossible is rumored to be in the works.