Cruise, Tom (1962- ), American motion-picture actor, who became a celebrity in the 1980s after his performance in Risky Business (1983), a satire of suburban adolescence. Born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in Syracuse, New York, he appeared in a succession of motion pictures in the early 1980s that focused on adolescent characters, then moved on to roles in such major productions as Legend (1985); The Color of Money (1986), directed by Martin Scorsese; and Top Gun (1986), a popular motion picture about United States Navy fighter pilots.
Cruise received praise for his performances in Rain Man (1988), in which he played the brother of an autistic man (see Autism), and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), in which he portrayed a paraplegic veteran of the Vietnam War (1959-1975) who becomes an antiwar activist. His other films include Cocktail (1988), about a bartender; Days of Thunder (1990), which he cowrote, about a race car driver; Far and Away (1992), about Irish immigrants to the United States in the late 19th century; A Few Good Men (1992), which concerns the murder trial of two marines; and The Firm (1993), about corruption in a prestigious law firm. Although his works during this period earned a mixed reception from critics, Cruise’s popularity with motion-picture audiences grew dramatically.
In 1993 Cruise made his directing debut with “The Fabulous Frammis,” an episode of the cable-television miniseries Fallen Angels. In 1994 Cruise appeared in Interview with the Vampire, and in 1996 he starred in Mission: Impossible, which he also produced. The following year he starred in Jerry Maguire, which concerns the conflicts a sports agent feels between his personal and professional life. Cruise has received Academy Award nominations for best actor
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