Tom Cruise, the star of Mission: Impossible, Top Gun and Risky Business, is known for being a daredevil on the screen. But his off-screen life has actually been just as action-packed, too. In fact, with a past that includes everything from saving a woman’s life to being able to hold his breath for six and a half minutes, Cruise could be classed as a real life action hero.
20. Japan has given him a very special honor
Arguably, there’s no actor in the whole of Hollywood as famous in Japan as Tom Cruise. But why is he so popular? Well, it could be down to the fact that Cruise has traveled to Japan more than any other actor in tinsel town. In fact, he is so popular there that the nation has now declared October 10 as “Tom Cruise Day.”
19. He was once on his way to priesthood
A world where Cruise isn’t hanging off the side of a building or dangling from a plane? It sounds impossible, but it could have been a reality. Yes, a young Cruise was raised in a strict Catholic household and before he turned to acting, he wanted to become a priest. He even studied at a seminary on a scholarship, but he was apparently expelled for thieving alcohol.
18. He has a Disney character modeled after him
Ever watched Disney’s Aladdin and noticed a similarity between the titular character and Cruise? Well, that’s because the street urchin was actually based on the Mission: Impossible star. Initially, though, the character was going to be modeled after Michael J. Fox, but those plans were scrapped when the head animator regarded Cruise as a better fit.
17. He really can take to the skies
It seems that Cruise really did feel the need for speed after all. Following on from his role as Maverick in the legendary Top Gun, the actor went on to obtain his pilot’s licence in 1994. He now owns a grand total of five jets, furthering his real-life action hero persona.
16. He’s a real-life hero
He’s played the hero in numerous films, but on occasion fiction has blurred into reality for Cruise. For example, the actor rushed to a woman’s rescue in 1996 after she was injured in a hit and run. And as if accompanying her to the hospital wasn’t enough, Cruise even went so far as to pay for her treatment after he found out that she wasn’t insured.
15. He must be very popular with Ray-Ban
Along with being a top actor, it seems that Cruise is a top salesperson without even knowing it. In fact, after wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses in the movie Risky Business, the company reported an increase of sales by an astronomical 2,000 percent. And no doubt they had Maverick to thank!
14. He attended 15 different schools
When Tom was a child, the Cruise family traveled across the U.S. and Canada thanks to his father’s trade. In fact, by the age of 14, Cruise had traveled around so much that he had been put into no fewer than 15 different schools.
13. He can hold his breath for an impressively long time
Cruise is known for doing his own stunts, but he took things to another level for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Appearing on The Graham Norton Show in October 2016, Cruise divulged exactly how long he had had to hold his breath under water for one particular scene: an impressive six and a half minutes.
12. He almost chose a career in the ring
As already mentioned, Cruise almost went down the path of priesthood, but there was another passion that could have defined the star. Yes, he was a successful high school wrestler, until a knee injury caused him to turn to acting in the school play instead. Cruise’s wrestling days probably weren’t all in vain; no doubt all of that training came in handy in his many fight scenes.
11. His casting in Interview with the Vampire raised a few eyebrows
He might be one of Hollywood’s most loved actors, but author Anne Rice wasn’t particularly impressed when he was cast to star as Lestat in the film adaption of her novel Interview with the Vampire. But once the movie was released Rice had a change of heart. In fact, she wrote a personal statement praising Cruise’s performance.
10. He helped develop his Tropic Thunder character
Cruise wasn’t one to shy away from the creative process when it came to the hit film Tropic Thunder. In February 2016 co-screenwriter Justin Theroux told Business Insider that the actor had helped to develop the character of Les Grossman, including the design of those massive prosthetic hands.
9. He crashed his first motorcycle when he was just ten years old
The movie star appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno in 2013 and revealed how he had purchased his first motorcycle at the tender age of ten. Unfortunately, however, Cruise and the bike ended between the bumpers of two cars when he was involved in a collision. Thankfully, the damage was minimal, and no one was hurt.
8. He hated one part of his body so much he avoided the cameras
It seems weird to think that one of the hottest movie stars was so insecure that he used to avoid photo shoots. And yet according to the memoirs of the late Patrick Swayze, that is exactly what Cruise did. In fact, Swayze, who starred with Cruise in The Outsiders, stated that the actor hated his gnashers so much that he shunned the camera at every opportunity.
7. He has his own moves
It’s gone down in movie history, but Cruise’s underpants boogie in Risky Business was completely improvised. Yes, the actor was all on his own as the script simply advised, “Joel dances in underwear through the house.” And impressively, especially considering the lack of direction, the scene only took half a day to film!
6. He’s gone down in box office history
Cruise is no stranger to seeing his films do well at the box office. But he went down in movie history when he became the first thespian to see five of his movies rake in over $100 million in the U.S. And to make the gold streak even more impressive, the movies were released one after the other. They included A Few Good Men, The Firm, Interview with the Vampire, Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire.
5. He’s not afraid to make a high-heeled entrance
Cruise went down in history again when he won the Man of the Year Award from Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club after having played two Harvard-educated lawyers in his films. The actor accepted the award in 1994, and he made sure to dress for the occasion – putting on a pair of stilettos and women’s lingerie to accept it.
4. His real name is a real mouthful
It turns out that Cruise has a pretty interesting real name, although it’s a bit of a mouthful to pronounce. Yes, before he became Tom Cruise, his real name was actually Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. But his agent suggested he drop the “Mapother IV” and just stick with Cruise instead.
3. His trophy cabinet has an empty space
Cruise might be a box office hit, but he has never had the chance to wrap his hands around an Oscar. In fact, Cruise’s co-stars seem to have more success than him when it comes to Oscar season. In fact, nine of his co-stars have been nominated for an Oscar. Still, Cruise has been nominated three times, but so far the Oscar section in his trophy cabinet remains empty.
2. The Brits love one Cruise cameo above all else
Cruise might have starred in numerous big screen hits, but the film that has been the most successful with U.K. viewers is quite surprising. In 2004 Channel 4’s Ultimate Film revealed that Cruise’s cameo in Austin Powers: Goldmember was the firm favourite with British audiences.
1. Tom has German, Irish and English blood in his veins
It might come as a surprise to some, but Cruise’s ancestry is pretty interesting. In fact, he has Irish, English and German blood flowing through his veins. His mother has three-eighths German and five-eighths Irish ancestry in her history, while his father hails from Irish, English and German roots.