Murphy’s Law – In defense of Tom Cruise

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

I love Tom Cruise.

There, I said it.

I love him as much as any heterosexual man can love a couch jumping, slightly manic Scientologist he’s never actually met.

I know that ever since his now infamous Oprah moment, Cruise has been seen more as a punchline than an A-list movie star. Plus, Scientology seems so bizarre and kooky to outsiders that it’s easy to shake your head and dismiss anyone involved as being a few teddy bears short of a picnic. But I’m sorry, I don’t care what the doubters think. Tom Cruise is great.

Is he crazy? Quite possibly. But aren’t all great actors? Is Tom Cruise really any more crazy than Daniel Day Lewis, who reportedly refused to ever break character on his Lincoln biopic (supposedly his own name didn’t appear on the call sheet, just “Abraham Lincoln”) and who was so intense on the set of There Will Be Blood that Paul Dano refuses to be alone in a room with him? Or how about Christian Bale, the guy who dropped an unhealthy amount of weight for The Machinist, then immediately put it back on and then some for Batman Begins – going so intense with his bulking up that he was actually too big for his Batman costume? You know, the same Christian Bale who has had public blow ups with his own family and that poor lighting guy on Terminator Salvation.

Tom Cruise may be unstable, but it manifests itself in completely harmless and generally entertaining ways. Cruise getting overly animated in his affection for his new beau Katie Holmes may have seemed like the rantings of an unhinged lunatic, but it was fun to watch and it gave us this, so really I think it was totally worth it.

Like Day Lewis and Bale, Cruise generally tends to channel his craziness into his acting, which has given us quite a few memorable moments. His latest on set craziness was his decision to perform as many of his own stunts as they would let him on the set of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, including a breathtaking sequence where his character is forced to climb up the side of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Cruise could have easily used a mix of stuntman shots and a green screen to film it, but instead he decided to strap himself in a harness 1,700 feet in the air to get the shots Brad Bird needed. The scene would have worked just fine if done the safer (and much saner) way, but actually having close ups of Cruise dangling outside the building adds a level of intensity to the entire sequence. It seems more dangerous and more impactful seeing him struggle to climb the structure. And even though logically you know he is going to be okay, some part of your brain legitimately fears for Cruise’s (and his character Ethan Hunt’s) safety. It’s the best scene in a highly entertaining action movie and its one we are all likely to remember for years to come.

And when you look at Tom Cruise’s career, he has given us so many memorable moments that it’s almost difficult to keep track of them all. His brief-clad slide across the hard wood floor in Risky Business, which has been parodied and ripped off countless times. The volleyball scene in Top Gun – the most homoerotic sports sequence ever put on film. The “You can’t handle the truth!” showdown with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, which is one of my favorite cinematic moments of all time.

And that’s not even mentioning all of his other memorable films like Rain Man, Days of Thunder, Cocktail, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Vanilla Sky and Minority Report. The guy has had one of the most consistently entertaining careers in all of Hollywood. He’s been starring in some of the best films the business has had to offer for almost 30 years. While guys like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have become parodies of themselves on screen, Cruise is still able to give a nuanced and captivating performance.

I don’t care if he’s crazy. I don’t care what his religious beliefs are. I am constantly impressed by Cruise’s work and I hope he continues to star as Ethan Hunt in as many Mission: Impossible films as they feel like making. I know that the introduction of Jeremy Renner in this latest film was supposed to be a passing of the torch of sorts, but I hope it’s not the case. Renner’s Brandt has nowhere near as much charisma or personality as Ethan Hunt. And Renner certainly isn’t going to be dangling himself from the side of any tall buildings any time soon.

So judge me all you want, but I love Tom Cruise. I think he’s one of the greatest actors of our time. And I don’t care who knows it. Hell, I’ll jump on Oprah’s couch and shout it to the world if I need to.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

  1. JQP December 21, 2011
  2. Joel Murphy December 21, 2011
  3. nix December 21, 2011

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